We had warned before the game that yesterday's visit to the Liberty Stadium would be no stroll in the park but as it turned out we put in an excellent performance and ran out easy winners at 4-1. In truth, Swansea had the better of proceedings until the Ayew goal but thereafter they looked rattled and we were calm in the way that a team who is coming off the back of a series of good results can be.
Tormentor in chief was the splendid Andy Carroll. How quickly we forget his injury problems when he is back and in dominant form like yesterday. He may have left it until injury time to grab a deserved goal, but all afternoon he ran Swansea ragged as he dominated their centre backs in the air and looks almost back to his best.
Next up was Winston Reid who was once again assured at the back and even popped up to snatch a goal as he outmuscled the hapless Swansea defence to head in a delicious Payet corner. Behind him, Darren Randolph was equal to pretty much everything Swansea could offer and will be annoyed at the concession of a late goal through some somnolent defending by Oggy and Cressy.
We reverted to four at the back in a 4-2-3-1 formation that looked much more fluid than we have in a long time. Even with Manuel Lanzini missing and Dimitri Payet somewhat off form, we still looked much more penetrating than the Swans. SuperSlav was happy with both the result and the performance but in many respects this outing leaves even more questions to answer about our best formation and starting XI!
Either way, with 22 points and in eleventh with still a game to play before the half way mark of the season, we can afford to experiment a little in January and February as new recruits arrive. Nordtveit performed decently at right back yesterday but we clearly need a specialist in that position. Antonio's strike again emphasised how much he is wasted when played as a makeshift right back. With Kouyate about to depart for the AFCON, we have limited resources in midfield and, of course, we need a striker or two! The bench yesterday emphasised our lack of squad depth with the kids getting some valuable matchday experience.
Carroll was excellent. He makes such a difference and keeps defenders deep. Kouyate is far better placed in midfield. Fernandes is going to be a top footballer: pace, strength, guile and an eye for goal - great cameo from him yesterday. He will take Kouyate's place during AFCON. Reid is a great reader of the game and is in the right place at the right time.ReplyDelete
Once we stop giving the ball away (which we still do too frequently) we will concede fewer goals.
All in all a much improved performance yeasterday.