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Saturday, 5th January 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Absolutely spot on
Sunday, 6th Jan 2019 08:12 by Planet Swans (follow us on Twitter @swansnews)
It has been a good start to the New Year for the Swans as we added FA Cup progression to an excellent New Year's day result at Reading and took our tally in two away games to seven goals in the process.
I don't suspect many of us expected to go to Villa Park and come away with a 3-0 win but that was what we did as Potter played arguably the strongest side available to him for the game and made just the one change from the side that started at Reading.
Since the debacle in the first half against Wigan, we have played 225 minutes of football, scoring 9 goals and conceding just the one and that must send a whole host of confidence through the side as we prepare for the trip to Preston next Saturday.
It has been said by many for weeks that the backbone of the side should be consistent and if we can keep the back five line the same for the games coming then we can expect better things with much of what we achieved yesterday coming from a composed back line that never really saw Mulder threatened bar one superb save in the first half.
I have to say though that yesterday a midfield of Grimes and Fer were superb and left all the space for Celina to be almost everywhere across the attacking side of the pitch. The two midfielders mentioned controlled the game, won many of the loose balls and when we conceded possession they were like men possessed trying to win it back. For Grimes this has become something we are almost used to, for Fer it is something we know has been in his armoury but can be sadly lacking. You've found it Leroy, so now you need to keep it.
I must admit though I would be tempted to make one change to yesterday's starting line up (two if you assume McBurnie will be fit next weekend) and that is to replace Routledge with Dan James. Nothing against the performances of Routledge in particular but we do lose width on the left hand side with him there and James will give us that option going forward.
There were times yesterday that the football being played was as good as anything we have seen from a Swansea side at this level. We continually switched play from side to side and the neat triangles that we were famed for in the early Premier League years are coming back. I retain the belief that has been there all season that if we stick with Potter we could do really good things all be it he will frustrate us as he learns.
Don't get me wrong this is not a gushing "everything is perfect" kind of report as it really isn't that way. We know where the squad needs strengthening and it will be interesting to see whether there is any backing from the owners to give that strength. We have read the reports that several players are available to leave and we should not lose sight of the fact that several of those played yesterday (and against Reading) Losing some of those would clearly weaken us significantly but from here we should look at steady growth not continued losses of players.
We said in the preview for yesterday's game that we should treat the FA Cup seriously and it was great to see Potter do just that with his team selection. I maintain the fact that we are unlikely to push onto the play offs (without afore mentioned strengthening) but certainly not going to fall towards relegation so this is a chance to build a cup run whilst other sides work through the early rounds with weakened teams.
Of course as a Championship side then it needs a few strokes of luck along the way with both our draws and maybe some of the bigger sides departing in the first few rounds but its been done before and can be done again.
We need to wait our 4th round fate tomorrow night in the draw but for me it is someone winnable at home and for Potter to do the same again and show the competition the respect it probably deserves and push us on further.
Full credit though this morning goes to the manager and his team for yesterday's performance - long may that continue
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