Swans look to steady ship

Posted by Max Hicks

The Swans face Crawley in a Capital One Cup tie on Tuesday that has the potential to set the tone for the remainder of Swansea's season. The obvious danger is that either complacency or anxiety from the Swans could see an upset, with Crawley's giant-killing credentials well established. Swansea will have to get their approach and attitude right in order to come away with the expected result.

In the Swans favour is the likelihood Michael Laudrup will field a side half-full of youngsters and squad players; players who haven't yet seen much action, who want to impress and who don't have a hangover from Lambert and Moyes' double beating. That means starts are in the offing for the likes of club captain Garry Monk, Europe's former most creative player Mark Gower, newcomer Dwight Tiendalli and suddenly dangerous Luke Moore.

Monk ought to fill the aching void of leadership and composure in defence. He may no longer have the legs or engine for the pace of the Premier League, but against lower league opposition Monk's veteran nous ought to help the Swans steer their ship to victory. Tiendalli might also feature in a revamped defence in place of Ben Davies, who could use a break to get his breath back after being unexpectedly made Swansea's starting left back at just 19 years of age.

Mark Gower will enjoy a run out should he get one, and can use his set-piece prowess to feed striker Luke Moore, who made a case for a starting place with his all-action cameo against Aston Villa. Fellow front man Itay Schecter is unavailable on religious grounds.

Also in contention for a starting place is Jazz Richards, last season's relief man at full back. I singled Richards out at the start of the season as a developing player to watch; it would be nice to see him get some game time.

Injecting the starting eleven with a clutch of eager fresh faces ought to be enough to revitalise the Swans and motivate the team to get a good result. A comfortable win would do wonders to settle the Swans nerves and allow the first team proper to refocus on this Saturday's tussle away to Stoke. However, a slip at Crawley, and team morale, knocked back from the Everton defeat, might be in danger of slumping into the quagmire.

Swansea should remember that a result against Everton was always going to be a tough ask; I optimistically predicted a draw, but not only is a loss not the end of the world, it's not even that surprising. Everton are in fine fettle and Moyes has the Swans number. The Villa result was disappointing, but seven points from five games is still good enough. Beyond Stoke, the Swans face Wigan and Reading at home, games from which they should take some points even if they capitulate at the Britannia, but the key is big picture perspective. Every team goes through bad patches, but the Swans haven't yet thrown away games against clearly inferior opposition this season.

If Swansea can take the rough with the smooth and retain the confidence and poise which allow them to play their style, then what happened against Everton won't matter. Their first chance to do so begins tonight.

Prediction : Swans win

ESPN Conversations