Swansea City demonstrate how to win friends and influence people

Mid-table in the Premier League bears a striking resemblance to the top of last season’s Championship table, with all three promoted sides positioned between 9th and 11th, a solitary point between them. Swansea may be sandwiched between Norwich and QPR but they are in a league of their own in terms of plaudits, as Brendan Rodgers’ side continue to impress with their aesthetically pleasing brand of football.

A template implemented by Roberto Martinez, briefly cultivated by Paolo Sousa and elevated by Rodgers has seen Swansea pass their way through the Championship and half way up the Premier League. Swansea build from the back and goalkeeper Michel Vorm, a revelation since replacing Dorus de Vries and the signing of the season at a mere £1.5m, was bought for his football ability as much as his goalkeeping. Vorm is fortunate to play behind a back four that is seasoned and marshalled by both the imposing Welsh international Ashley Williams and stalwart Gary Monk, conceding only 42 goals in 46 league games last season.

Midfield is where the magic happens, littered with some of the smallest players in the league. The likes of Leon Britton, Joe Allen and Nathan Dyer may be lacking in height but they more than compensate in speed, technical ability and invention. The central three keep the ball moving with the likes of Scott Sinclair, scorer of 27 goals last season, Dyer and Wayne Routledge providing an attacking outlet from the wings. Much has been made of Swansea’s passing statistics with Britton recording a 100% pass completion rate (67 passes) in a recent 3-1 win over Bolton. As a team, they are up there with the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, although the stats are slightly deceptive, with Swansea being the only side in the league to record more passes in their own half than that of the opposition.

Swansea’s prospects appear to depend on the fortunes of record signing Danny Graham, who ploughs a lone furrow up front, having netted 27 times for Watford last term. After a frustrating start to the season, Graham bagged four in four games recently and is playing with a renewed confidence. Leroy Lita is on hand to deputise if required, but Swansea will be desperate for Graham to remain fit and able for the duration of their maiden top flight campaign.

Rodgers has also recently promoted the international claims of Graham, Sinclair and Dyer, based on their impressive recent performances. “I’ve got three players at the top end of the field who, if they keep performing, can play for England,” claimed Rodgers recently. “If we keep performing how we are now they will be on the radar for sure.

The bedrock of Swansea’s promotion campaign was their formidable home form, where 18 wins papered over their failings on the road, where they were defeated on 12 occasions. That pattern looks set to continue this season with Swansea unbeaten at home and already recording 5 losses in all competitions on their travels, although impressive recent draws at Wolves and Liverpool bode well for forthcoming tests. Their immediate future involves the visit of reigning champions Manchester United, after the current international break, and with United’s relative struggles both in defence and midfield, it promises to be an absorbing contest.

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