Swans eye cup run

Posted by Max Hicks

The close-call at Crawley was exactly the kind of result the Swans needed. The expected win will preserve the Swans dignity and allow Michael Laudrup's aspirations of a deep cup run to continue, whilst the nature of the match, which at one point saw Swansea trail by a goal and ended with an injury time winner, will keep the team honest and chase away any complacency ahead of Saturday's scrap at Stoke.

As expected Laudrup fielded a side with a strong representation of youth and backup players. Dwight Tiendalli started in place of Angel Rangel at right back and delivered the cross which gave Danny Graham his goal, whilst Ki Sung-Yueng picked up where he left off against Everton... in defence. Ki evidentially gave a good enough account of himself as a makeshift centre half for the last 30 minutes against Everton to warrant a full game at the position against Crawley, and once again didn't disappoint. Laudrup praised the South Korean's pace and ability to play the ball out from the back, which you'd expect given Ki is usually played as an attacking midfielder.

It may have been a move borne of necessity, but it is interesting that Laudrup is pre-empting the next likely tactical evolution in British football; the end of the lumbering centre half in favour of faster, more skilful ball-players in defence. The traditional full back has already fallen by the wayside as more progressive teams look to use wing backs to add attacking dimension and width. It stands to reason that old-fashioned centre halves might be the next position due for a makeover, not least because the intimidation tactics which were once most of a centre half's game have now more or less been outlawed by rule changes and the omnipresence of television cameras. It is somehow fitting that a player like Ki Sung-Yueng is used in central defence for a team that likes to play the ball out from the back in the same week as John Terry announces his international retirement. A sign of things to come for more teams than just the Swans, who already do a good line in ball playing centre halves.

Speaking of positional evolution, full back Jazz Richards also got a start and was played in Nathan Dyer's right wing slot (Dyer was serving his suspension for the least deserved red card of his relatively card-free career). Richards acquitted himself well before making way for Danny Graham late in the game. It is encouraging that in Richards, the Swans not only have a decent young player but a versatile one, too; he has played in midfield, at full back and now on the wing, and will make a useful addition to the bench if nothing else as the season progresses.

Michu, the Swans new star and centrepiece of Laudrup's attack, was given a surprise start presumably to help him rediscover his scoring touch, which he duly did with just 27 minutes played, while Garry Monk, Swans stalwart and club captain, rounded off his first start of the season with the game's decisive goal. The two goals against might be a slight concern, but Chico returns for the next game, and Tiendalli is looking more or less match fit. With their defence mostly restored, the Swans are now in a great position to put the doubts from the last two league matches behind them and press on. What's more, a Capital One Cup run is still in the offing, and the Swans will at least be relieved they won't have to play Everton in the next round.

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