Laudrup's astute acquisitions don't end with Michu

Posted by Martin Laurence (whoscored.com)

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup puts his players through their pacesPA PhotosMichael Laudrup has Swansea playing an up-tempo style

A 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge has left Swansea on the cusp of a trip to Wembley and again highlighted the magnificent job that Michael Laudrup has done since his arrival in the summer.

The Welsh outfit sit 9th in the league with many doubting that they could build on a hugely impressive return to the top flight having ended last season in 11th under Brendan Rodgers' reign. However, in adapting his predecessor's approach Laudrup seems to have struck a finer balance between the desired tiki-taka under the Northern Irishman and a more potent end product in the final third.

The majority will point to the signing of Michu as the main cause for the Dane's immediate success at the club, and while the Spaniard has been nothing short of exceptional in front of goal, newcomers elsewhere have proven to be astute acquisitions as well.

Having raided La Liga for the likes of Hernandez, Chico and De Guzman, the Swans' squad is far stronger than it was last season, ensuring the loss of Scott Sinclair has gone completely unnoticed at The Liberty. Ki Sung-Yeung's arrival has also added to the competition in midfield and allows the side's mini-metronome Leon Britton to rest on occasion.

While the South Korean has perhaps taken a little more time to adapt in England having made the move across the border from Celtic, he too has shown glimpses of real quality in displays against the likes of Arsenal, Southampton and Reading earlier in the season.

Though De Guzman and Hernandez have improved the team's chance creation, both picking up four assists thus far, as well as weighing in with three and two goals respectively, it is perhaps Chico that has impressed the most outside of top scorer Michu, with his efforts going somewhat under the radar.

The centre-back has fit seamlessly into Swansea's playing style, averaging more passes than any other player at the club (60.8) and maintaining a magnificent 90.4% accuracy, both trumping defensive partner Ashley Williams.

The summer signing also gets through significantly more defensive work, with 3.2 tackles per game to Williams' 0.9 and 3.3 interceptions per game to the captain's 2.3. Furthermore, Chico has perhaps been a little unfairly criticised for an apparent rashness in the challenge, however, having committed the same average as Williams (1.1), his figure is relatively low.

Williams' leadership at the back cannot be called into question, however, and was displayed impeccably against Chelsea in midweek, with the full-backs also playing important roles at the club. While Angel Rangel's influence has been apparent for some time, the deputising displays of youngster Ben Davies on the left have been commendable in the absence of Neil Taylor.

Elsewhere former star players under Rodgers such as Dyer and Graham have seen their options limited lately by the improved competition and the trident that was crucial to their promotion to the Premier League all but forgotten.

Overall, Laudrup's dealings last summer have arguably proven to be the most impressive in the league, but his work on the training ground in ensuring the side become more prolific deserves as much credit.

Rodgers vs LaudrupOther / whoscored.comRodgers vs Laudrup in stats

A look at the Premier League team statistics at WhoScored.com shows Swansea remain one of the top side's in the league for possession, although their average of 55.3% is some way down on the 58% retained in the previous campaign. However, their pass accuracy is all but identical at 85.3%, as they have been urged to keep the ball slightly further up the pitch than last season.

They haven't, however, been any more direct in their approach - averaging fewer long balls per game this season (60 to 65) - with the quality of the players brought in enough to unlock defences where they had previously struggled. In turn it has seen the Swans average 14 shots per game compared to 12.4 last season, with 4.9 on target compared to a meagre 3.8 per match under Rodgers.

Their chance conversion has also risen significantly (9.1% up to 10.6%), where it becomes impossible to avoid the impact of Michu, whose opener against Chelsea in the Capital One Cup last night was his 16th in all competitions.

While the mop-headed marksman has received most of the plaudits this season, the composition of his supporting cast must be credited to a Great Dane.

*All stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

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