Swansea City defying all expectations to stand as Europa League outsiders
Swansea City are the first ever Welsh side that has grace the Premier League, a side that less than 10 years ago were sitting at the bottom of the football league pyramid. Their opening game at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium did not exactly start well, with the Swans on the wrong end of a 4-0 deficit. But Brendan Rodgers has brought Swansea back from that disappointment to the fringes of European football.
A guarantee for relegation by many pundits, including a number who contributed to the Guardian’s season preview, few would have believed that Swansea would be sitting in 10th position by the end of March and playing the attractive, attacking football that has seen them match the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham as well as defeating Arsenal and Manchester City in the reverse fixture at the Liberty Stadium.
Swansea have played with pace and attacking flair all season, sticking with their principles regardless of the opposition. Rodgers has brought the best out of his players, putting together a group of footballers who all believe in the same philosophy of football he does. Swansea’s squad is very much filled with journeymen players who have spent the majority of their careers playing lower league football and Rodgers has turned them into Premier League heavyweights.
The likes of Nathan Dyer, Wayne Routledge and Scott Sinclair, who ESPN report was signed for an initial £500,000, have set the Premier League alight with their pace and dribbling ability. Behind them they have the creative midfielders Joe Allen, Gylfi Sigurdsson, a loan signing from Hoffenheim, and Leon Britton, who has the best passing accuracy in the world at 93.3% just ahead of Barcelona playmaker Xavi with 93%.
But arguably Rodgers’ best signing is goalkeeper Michel Vorm, who the Guardian claim was bought for £1.5m from Dutch side FC Utrecht. Vorm seems to take great pride in his distribution from the back and is often seen picking passes out from goal kicks, rather than punting the ball forwards. This forms an important part of Swansea’s style as it gives them a better chance of retaining possession, rather than the typical boot up field that many ‘keepers prefer.
Swansea’s keep-ball game plan is an effective way of playing in the Premier League, as it counter acts the opposition’s flair players from making an impact on the game by starving them of the ball. This will be vital if Swansea are to come away from Tottenham Hotspur this Sunday with any points. Players such as Gareth Bale, Rafael van der Vaart, Luka Modric and Emmanuel Adebayor will be key to Tottenham regaining their league form and pushing back for third place, but if Swansea can keep possession in good areas they will find space for their own influential players to create damage to the Tottenham back four.
Tottenham are coming into the game on the back of a dominating performance against Bolton in the FA Cup where they came out 3-1 winners so it will be by no means an easy game for the Welsh side. But if Swansea are serious about a Europa League spot challenge, it is important they come away from White Hart Lane with at least a point.
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