Battling Swansea hint at progession despite loss

Posted by Max Hicks

SwanseaGettyImagesSwansea's Chico Flores heads for the tunnel after his controversial sending off against Chelsea.

It's hard not to feel a little bit sorry for Swansea. Trying to get something out of Chelsea was going to be difficult enough without having to play with ten men for most of the game. Although they ultimately lost, they did so by the smallest possible margin, 1-0, which is impressive given the circumstances. And in all honesty, even with 11 men, a 1-0 defeat would still have been reasonable. It was no rout, and the Swans looked and played like a decent mid-table team.

The biggest talking point of the game was obviously Chico Flores being shown the red card with barely 15 minutes played. Continue Reading...

With safety near, Swans can experiment against Chelsea

Posted by Max Hicks

AllsportPablo Hernandez should be considered to play this weekend, as he scored a late equaliser against Chelsea in the same fixture last season.

Swansea City will face the toughest of their remaining five matches Sunday when Chelsea come to town. As far as the relegation battle goes, things might have to get worse for the Swans before they get better, but with all the teams below Swansea facing similarly tough matches, the Welsh club should be able to hold on to 15th place for now.

Sunderland, Cardiff and West Brom each face top-10 opposition in Everton, Southampton and Tottenham, whilst Fulham and Norwich play each other. Continue Reading...

Weak Swans fall to Hull

Posted by Max Hicks

George Boyd goal header Hull SwanseaPA PhotosGeorge Boyd headed Hull in front versus Swansea.

So much for pep talks. In the wake of last week's satisfying 3-0 victory over Norwich, Swansea boss Garry Monk dared his players to go the remainder of the season unbeaten, and they responded by promptly falling at the first fence. Hull will not be the toughest game the Swans will have to play between now and season's end (that plum falls to Chelsea), and with points at a premium during the Premier League's craziest ever relegation battle, the Swans showed a surprising lack of focus in the 1-0 defeat. Continue Reading...

Bony buy has been a bonanza for Swans

Posted by Max Hicks

Swansea's season so far has been one full of gambles: from the forced gamble of taking a small squad through four competitions, to the calculated gamble of a mid-season managerial change. Perhaps the Swans' biggest gamble of all came before a ball was kicked, when chairman Huw Jenkins spent twelve million pounds on striker Wilfried Bony, a target identified by former manager Michael Laudrup.

- Report: Monk: Bony key to Swansea future

In Premier League terms, twelve million pounds isn't all that much. Continue Reading...

Swansea's quality resurfacing as health improves

Posted by Max Hicks

It shouldn't really be surprising that Swansea finally managed to beat Norwich 3-0 on Saturday. For the first time in a long time, the Swans are more or less playing with a full squad, having endured a treatment room carousel which has seen one or more key men miss games every week since last September. As the players have returned, so too has the style, the confidence and fluidity, which despite being a trademark of Swansea football, has been in short supply in recent weeks.

- Report: Swansea 3-0 Norwich City

Manager Garry Monk is now so spoiled for choice that central midfielder Jonathan de Guzman has lately been starting on the flank to accommodate returning central players Jonjo Shelvey and Michu in the same formation. Continue Reading...

Swansea prove mettle against Arsenal

Posted by Max Hicks

Wilfried BonyPA PhotosSwansea City's Wilfried Bony celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game

Lee Probert's decision to whistle for full-time thirty seconds early on Tuesday night while Jonathan De Guzman was on a breakaway might seem pretty baffling, but it makes sense to me.

Probert was making a decision about which set of complaints he'd rather face: those from influential Arsenal, who are already 'in credit' with the FA's referees following Andre Marriner's case of mistaken identity of Saturday, and would have certainly complained had De Guzman scored a likely looking goal; or those from comparatively powerless Swansea, who weren't even offered an apology after the Bobby Madley penalty incident against Stoke, and won't be offered one this time either. Continue Reading...

Defensive errors doom Swans at Everton

Posted by Max Hicks

A beaten Swansea City maintained their four point safety margin from the relegation places on Saturday, but only because every team beneath them in the table also lost. The 3-2 away defeat to Everton -- a side Swansea have never beaten -- probably wasn't a fixture the Swans would have earmarked to break a four game winless streak, but they might yet have done just that.

- Report: Everton 3-2 Swansea

Swansea overcame an early penalty to equalise in a dominant first half display, but threw the game away despite out-shooting their opponents 21-9. Continue Reading...

Deja vu all over again for Swans

Posted by Max Hicks

It seems quite likely that West Brom manager Pepe Mel might have headed into the visitors' dressing room at halftime on Saturday in two minds about whether to attempt a rousing team-talk, or whether to call the house movers and tell them not to bother. Before he could do either, he apparently found Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis's notes from the last match at the Liberty in the waste paper basket and along with them, his salvation.

The similarities between Saturday's 2-1 defeat to West Brom and the previous game's 1-1 draw against Pulis's Crystal Palace were hard to ignore, and harder still to tolerate. Continue Reading...

An exercise in development

Posted by Max Hicks

SwanseaPA PhotosSwansea could have done better, but it could be worse too.

This time last season, Swansea had just capped off their League Cup final win with a 1-0 Premier League victory against Newcastle. The Swans would go on to take just six points from their remaining ten matches, but with 40 points in the bank already, survival was assured, and the side eventually finished 9th.

The season before last, Swansea had 36 points by this stage. Needing just four more to hit the magic 40 point threshold -- generally considered the base line for survival -- the side picked up three in their very next game (a 3-0 win over Fulham), but had to battle through a five game losing streak before another 3-0 win against Blackburn Rovers took them to 42 points and guaranteed safety. Continue Reading...

Laudrup vs. Monk - were Swans right to act?

Posted by Max Hicks

Michael Laudrup won the Capital One Cup for Swansea.GettyImagesThe League Cup has often proved a stepping stone in recent years.

It's been over a month since Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins sacked Michael Laudrup, and the fans are still arguing the toss. Although it's still very much early doors in Garry Monk's reign, I thought it might be interesting to compare the two managers' figures to see if, on paper at least, anything has really changed.

Since the Swans priority is avoiding relegation from the league, I'll only be looking at league games. Monk's figures are fairly straight forward, since he's only been in charge for four league matches. Continue Reading...

Monk's inexperience rears head in Swans' draw

Posted by Max Hicks

When Garry Monk was installed as Michael Laudrup's successor as Swans manager a month ago, it was because chairman Huw Jenkins wanted a return to "the Swansea way" of doing things. Although in principle Jenkins' motive was a noble safeguard against what he considered to be an "erosion" of standards under Laudrup, there are still one or two things Monk should have learned from the Dane.

Sunday's disappointing 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace was very much the cliched "game of two halves". Continue Reading...

Swans exit Europe with heads held high

Posted by Max Hicks

Speaking before the game, new Swans boss Garry Monk explained that so long as his team gave 100 percent on Thursday night, the result wouldn't matter. Monk will be pleased then that his side did indeed give everything they had; he might even be a little bit sour that his side aren't progressing in the Europa League, and rightfully so because Swansea more than deserved it.

The 3-1 scoreline was unflattering to the Welsh side. Lorenzo Insigne's opener was the result of early nerves from the Swans' defence (and Dwight Tiendalli in particular), while Napoli's third came with all the inevitability of an NHL empty-netter, slotted with virtually the last kick of the game to punish a Swansea side desperately hunting the equalizer which would have won the match on the away goals rule. Continue Reading...