Looking at the current league table, I'd say the top 8 now will be the top 8 at the end of the season, even though I think Southampton will slip back a bit I think them and Everton are a step above the rest outside the 'big 6'. I'd like to think that Swansea could be approaching that bracket next season, but when factoring in the Europa league as well, a mid-table finish (15th or higher) would for me be an OK season provided we make the knockout stages of the Europa League.
With this backdrop of a pretty tight league, 2 points is a big deal and we will have to wait for the end of the season to see whether we are in credit or not when it comes to the outcomes of major balls ups.
The ending of the match obviously dominates the narrative, but 2-0 down at half time and conceding three from Stoke's only 3 attempts on target isn't something to be pleased about.
Stoke under Hughes seems to be a similar beast to that under Pulis as can be seen in part from the kick off at the start of the match and also the restart after Swansea made it 2-2, the jokes about Stoke being a 'rugby' team have been around for a while but it was still interesting to see them basically kicking for touch and position:
|'Passes' shortly after kick off and after the 2-2 equaliser|
Any analysis of the game is distorted by the fact that Stoke scored so early meaning they had even less incentive to play further forward and in fact had only 2 shots in the first 74 minutes both of which however were goals:
|Stoke with only 3 shots all game until they were 3-2 down with a very late rally to get the equaliser|
Overall, Swansea made 42 crosses (including corners) which is almost double the 23 that Swansea have averaged in the league prior to this match:
|Swansea Crosses and Take-ons|
|As seen from previous games v. Stoke, there's often little point trying to compete in the air vs. Crouch, it's more important to compete for the knock down which is where Leon comes into his own, often tidying up scrappy passages of play|
Things are far from perfect, but with repeated rotation in the middle combined with a heavy workload for the defence and Routledge/Dyer it's always going to be a pretty stop-start season. Even for those who didn't play on Thursday, just travelling to Russia and back is going to have an impact on your normal training regime, although I don't want to go to Dutch Ray on it and suddenly trot out the excuse when there's a bad result and be strangely quiet when teams in Europe have good results after midweek fixtures.
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