Step aside Hazard, Mata and Oscar – there is a new tantalising trio in town. Swansea utilised Wayne Routledge, Nathan Dyer and Pablo Hernandez together for the first time against West Brom on Wednesday and they stormed to a 3-0 lead, eventually winning 3-1. Such was the Swans’ first-half dominance, they made more passes in the first 45 minutes than the Baggies managed in the whole game. Michael Laudrup regarded the breathlessly fluid demonstration provided as “fantastic,” as Swansea moved up to eighth in the Premier League ahead of a trip to Arsenal on Saturday.
Routledge has been a revelation this season. Having played for nine clubs in the 10 years since making his debut, he appears to have finally settled and is beginning to demonstrate his undoubted potential on a regular basis. A bit part player last season, he has been the main beneficiary of Scott Sinclair’s move to Manchester City and has recorded four goals and three assists thus far. Having not scored a Premier League goal with any of his previous six top flight sides, Routledge is clearly enjoying his finest campaign to date.
“Wayne has not been a regular starter for a long time, he is now and that’s important,” Laudrup recently explained to Wales Online. “I heard when I arrived here that he only scored one goal in 100 games, and he has already scored double that this season. Maybe he has been a big surprise for those watching on, but we know he has a lot of quality. We are giving him confidence and that’s important for every player. With confidence, everything comes out.”
Pablo, signed with the proceeds of the Sinclair transfer, made an indifferent start to his Swansea career. Struggling in his first few games, he has since adapted to the demands of English football and now looks a significant upgrade. Capped four times by Spain, no mean feat with their wealth of midfield options, he had a hand in all three goals on Wednesday. He limped off in the second-half with a muscle injury and is unlikely to feature at the weekend, but Laudrup is delighted with Pablo’s progress. “In the first games he had to adapt, but he’s getting better and better. The last month he’s been really great. Outstanding.”
Dyer scored twice in the opening day 5-0 hammering of QPR, continuing the fine form that saw Brendan Rodgers tout him for England duty last season. It was Dyer’s deep cross that allowed Michu to open the scoring against West Brom, while Hernandez set up Routledge for the second before all three combined for the third goal.
Swansea have managed the transition from Rodgers to Laudrup seamlessly, in much the same way they previously adapted to Paolo Sousa after the departure of Roberto Martinez. The club has a clear ethos and style of play to which managers and players are expected to adhere and it has certainly benefitted them in recent years. Playing out of a solid defence, they attack with pace and stick to their principles at all costs. When your manager is one of Europe’s greatest ever players and he is content to sit back and enjoy the show, you know you are on the right track.
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