|Recent Weeks Have Left Us Wanting|
Written by BarneyLW on Monday, 20th Oct 2014 14:26
One major criticism I had from the Newcastle game a fortnight ago-and this was the first real complaint I had all season-was that the team lacked a bit of ambition. The way we played that day, in comparison to the visitors, it seemed like with the slightest upping of the gears and the 3 points would've almost certainly gone to the Swans.
Well those concerns were answered in the game yesterday. Playing Stoke was never going to be easy, especially away from home, but ambition was not lacking in the opening half. The common argument used to be that in this encounter, Swansea would always dominate the possession battle, but be found wanting in the physical challenge. These days, it is a bit more difficult to read, with the Mark Hughes era focusing more on attractive football. Or at least more attractive than the Tony Pulis days at the Britannia. However, the visitors still showed that they can still out-pass the best of them on their day; two great moves saw Gylfi Sigurdsson and Ki Sung Yeung-who both had impressive displays for their respective countries on international break- pass up great chances to open the scoring. While Sigurdsson opted to try and round Potters' keeper Asmir Begovic, as opposed to placing it, Ki saw his shot fire straight into the big Bosnian between the sticks.
With a lot of pre-digested hype about the physicality and route one play that is associated with Stoke, a lot of the critics may have been surprised to see the opening goal come from a dangerous set piece to the away side. The first corner of the game saw notoriously physical centre back Ryan Shawcross bring down the big Ivorian, Wilfried Bony in the area, penalty given. There seemed to be a state of shock from the home fans, but replays showed clear and pointless contact, after what seemed to be a warning to the Stoke captain from referee Michael Oliver- 'I'm watching you, be careful.' Stupid as it was, Bony was not one to pass up the opportunity; cool as ever from the spot kick. 1-0 Swansea, slotted calmly to the keeper's left.
It didn't take long for further controversy. A darting run from Victor Moses, who got away from Angel Rangel, then seemed to take a tumble in the area. No hesitation, Michael Oliver pointed to the spot again, this time a penalty to the home team. This one seemed slightly more bewildering, as there seemed to be minimal, if any contact. Replays showed a blatant dive. Take nothing away from Charlie Adam's penalty, the Scotsman firing right into the goalkeeper's right hand corner. Despite picking the right way, there was nothing Fabianski could do.
The second half started fairly innocuously, with frankly very few chances. Although, there was a sense that the home side had come into the game a little, and showed the upping of the gears that Garry Monk's side couldn't seem to do against Newcastle. Subs Montero and Gomis on the hour did have an impact, with Routledge shifting to the right and Sigurdsson moving slightly further back to accommodate the two strikers, there started to be a sense in the ground that the next goal would win it.
But, to the dismay of the travelling fans, the goal went to Stoke. The usual self-creation of problems among the back four led to a loose pass being picked up in the Swansea half, before some neat play to the wing and a ball in met by Jonathan Walters, the sub firing a header into the bottom corner. Whether he thought it was going wide, or simply didn't feel he had the capacity to reach it, Fabianski made no effort to dive for the header until it was too late.
The post match reaction to the game was fairly predictable. Despite a late surge, the away side could not find an equaliser, and were left to half chances in all honesty, nothing really testing Begovic. But the defeat was met with ferocity from Garry Monk, calling the penalty they conceded abysmal and branded Victor Moses a 'cheat'. Undoubtedly a dive it was, however on this one I can't help feeling Mark Hughes had a valid point, suggesting that managers nowadays sometimes have to bite their tongue, which will come with experience. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the outspoken Swans' boss will need to be careful to avoid being reprimanded by the F.A, an organisation that need to excuse to start handing out fines and touchline bans.
As for the team, not a terrible performance. A good display at a tough ground, obvious disappointment at the result, but now the focus must go to Leicester at home next Saturday.
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Blogs by BarneyLW
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And so the unbeaten run goes on. Ahead of yet another vital match against a promotion contender on Tuesday night, we pay our first visit to a yet to be featured competition, going back nearly thirty years in the process. Last time in the Matches of Yesteryear series we explored our furthest distance for a ‘local derby’ match at Wycombe, this time we reflect on what must surely have been the shortest distance ever between the U’s and opponents for a competitive match?