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Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Swansea 3 - Arsenal 2

Sunday’s win against Arsenal although not the greatest win in Swansea’s history as I saw some (probably quite drunk) people comment on Sunday night is certainly a huge moment for the club and hopefully the first of many big name Premier League scalps. 

After the result Swansea have moved to 14/1 to be relegated when they were 4/1 before the weekend.  This means currently bookies think there’s only around a 6-7% chance of Swansea being relegated.  At the start of the season it wasn’t quite the same odds on staying up as a sighting of Elvis as mentioned by Rodgers but Swansea were odds of 1/2 (66%) to be relegated.

It’d be mean-spirited to reflect too much on Arsenal’s defects (the absence of Arteta arguably a key one) but some such as the continued inclusion of Arshavin were self inflicted especially given how much of Swansea’s activity goes through Rangel and Dyer who were on his side of the field.

Having said that, as I said after the defeat against Everton, so often the slant of any review is largely based on the final result and Arsenal are the first team to score twice in the Premier League at the Liberty and also had more shots (18) than any other visitor this season. 

The narrative of cool composed Swansea with the use of triangles to pass their way out of trouble is largely true (thank you Lee Dixon for giving birth to the Swansea Triangle) but 10 of Arsenal’s 18 shots came in the last 25 minutes after the introduction of Thierry Henry, one of the few Arsenal players you would worry about just by his presence. 

Swansea’s open play pass success rate also dropped from 81% in the first 65 minutes (just after Henry’s & Rosicky’s introductions) to 77% for the remainder of the match, although plenty of sides would love to get even that kind of success rate. 

One example of the increased pressure placed on Swansea in the second half is looking at the passing of Michel Vorm in each half, in the first half pass success rate was 87% (20 from 23) dropping to 53% in the second half (9 from 17).  Vorm’s passing has improved as the season has progressed and one pass in particular to Taylor almost on the half way line was particularly impressive.    

Increased Arsenal pressure resulted in more long balls from Vorm in the second half
It was a great team effort overall but for me two players in particular deserve a special mention:

Danny Graham has run himself in to the ground every match with his pressing of the opposition defence and also the responsibility of being the lone striker.  With Swansea’s controlled passing game it could just be a case of him being a spectator but rather than standing still, hands on hips and shouting for the ball but instead he is always looking to make the right run behind the defence.  His stats against Arsenal of one shot, one goal highlight the fact that chances made might be limited but his strike rate so far this season has been pretty impressive.

Last season, Nathan Dyer was deservedly the fan’s player of the season and has generally carried that form on this season.  The only thing stopping him being a real top player is the lack of goals.  Prior to 2012, Dyer had 16 Goals in 253 games but since the turn of the year 3 goals in 3 games, If he can keep in the goals and get maybe another 3 or 4 this season then he has absolutely everything and I personally can’t wait for the next two weeks to pass and the speculation around him, Sinclair, Vorm, Taylor etc., to finish. 

So far, with the additions of Sigurdsson, McEachran and Donnelley it’s been a great couple of weeks and the squad as it stands is far stronger than the one that finished last season without disturbing the team ethic.

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