|Controversy, but still signs of an international hangover|
Written by ChrisW on Monday, 20th Oct 2014 14:24
I don’t think there will be a single Swansea City fan or football fan in general for that matter, who agrees with the penalty awarded against Angel Rangel in Sunday’s game to Stoke. A poor dive from Victor Moses was enough of an excuse for the referee to award a penalty. You can’t blame a result on a single decision, but there is no denying that the penalty and goal just before half time definitely swung the momentum into Stoke City’s favour.
However, taking a step back from the anger and controversy, it is clear to see that the penalty decision was not the only issue for the Swans today. Starting the game brightly, some of the sequences of passing between Sigurdsson, Ki, Routledge, Dyer and Bony had fans and pundits alike purring. But prior to the Stoke penalty, these flowing passing movements were already starting to break down, and appear less often. By the second half, the team was unrecognisable at times. But the problem itself was easy to recognise – the fatigue of a week of the international break.
Gylfi, a player so pivotal to the Swans, both with his passing and his work rate, clearly wore out during the match, no doubt his herculean effort with two goals for Iceland against Holland taking its toll. Bony, penalty aside, looked slow and sluggish, giving away possession numerous times. Again, a long trip with the Ivory Coast taking its toll, and not helped by the stringent Ebola checks he was forced to go through on his return. And not to forget closer to home, Williams and Taylors equally draining matches against a deceptively strong Bosnia side, and playing with 10 men to Cyprus.
With Ki, Fernandez and Fabianski to name a few more all involved in travelling and helping out their national teams, it’s clear that fatigue was going to be an issue. And considering the opponents who are, shall we say, known for their physicality, it should perhaps be no surprise that today would be decided by a single goal coming towards the end of the second half.
With no more draining Europa league football, and a number of established premier league players being recruited by Monk in the summer, expectations were understandably high for a positive season ahead, and even another top ten finish. The season is still new, and that is of course still achievable. But maybe it’s not going to be as straightforward as most of us imagined.
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