Is there anyone happier in Swansea today than Swan Abi? We don’t think so, and this is why…
Having been condemned to their 3rd consecutive defeat away from home last weekend, Swansea were back in action at The Liberty on Sunday where they were looking to extend their unbeaten run at home which stems back to February 6th
A goal either side of the interval as well as a forth consecutive clean sheet at The Liberty for Swansea City ensured they signed off for the international break in the best possible fashion, as they claimed their second victory of the campaign.
Spending big in the summer transfer window, having captured the signatures of a number of multi million pound players, Tony Pulis’ Stoke side would have gone into Sunday’s game as overriding favourites, having already been tipped for a top six finish this season. The Potters pose a large aerial and physical threat, leading many to question how Swansea would cope with their substantial height advantage, and whether Brendan Rodgers side would struggle to defend against the likes of Peter Crouch. However it was Swansea’s quick fluid passing movements that proved impossible to contend with as Stoke struggled throughout the majority of the game.
The Welsh side were without the dependable Leon Britton, as the midfielder was ruled out of Sunday’s fixture due to a recurrence of a back injury that plagued him during the 2008/09 campaign, thus forcing Rodgers into a more attacking midfield trio as Wayne Routledge was handed his third league start for the Swans.
The only other change for the home side came up front as Danny Graham was recalled to the starting line up in place of Leroy Lita.
The home side settled into the game quickly with their first chance coming inside the opening five minutes when Rangel played through Nathan Dyer, who was through one on one with keeper Begovic, however a heavy touch from the winger allowed the keeper to collect.
Swansea made their early dominance count three minutes later when, after a surging run forward, Joe Allen played through Wayne Routledge who was then hacked down inside the area by Ryan Shawcross. Referee Mike Jones had no hesitation in pointing to the spot as Swansea were awarded their second spot kick in as many home games.
Having scored Swansea’s first Premier League goal from the penalty spot a fortnight ago, Scott Sinclair again stepped up and kept his composure to give Swansea a lead they deserved.
As the Swans continued to assert the pressure, Danny Graham came inches away from extending the home sides lead. Following some great trickery from Routledge, the midfielder supplied a dangerous ball across the face of goal, however the outstretched body of Graham just failed to connect.
Mid way through the first half, Vorm was forced into making a great save to deny Walters, who’s shot from nothing was tipped onto the cross bar and eventually out for a corner by the Swans keeper.
Swansea were able to dictate the pace of the game with Stoke relying on set pieces to get back on level terms, however the Swans remained defensively solid for the duration of the game, working as a unit to deny the visitors any clear cut chances.
Stoke came out of the blocks a lot sharper in the second half, enjoying better spells in possession, they continued to search for the break through, however failed to work Vorm.
Whelan gave the home side a scare when his free kick had Vorm beaten but was kept out by the woodwork.
Having absorbed Stoke’s onslaught of pressure early in the second half, Swansea regained the ascendancy. They began to press for a second goal, with Sinclair coming close as he forced a fine save from Begovic after demonstrating his pace and skill to work his way infield, the winger unleashed a lethal strike testing the Stoke keeper.
Having rode their luck at times, Danny Graham secured all 3 points for Swansea with 6 minutes remaining, as his persistence to open his Swansea account finally paid off. After dispossessing Woodgate, Swansea’s record signing surged forward through Stoke’s defence before calmly slotting past Begovic.
Dutch international Vorm made an outstanding save at the death to ensure the Welsh side recorded their forth clean sheet of the campaign, and in doing so remain yet to concede a Premier League goal at The Liberty.
In the absence of Leon Britton, Joe Allen commanded the holding midfield role, with a great work ethic the diminutive midfielder made challenges all over the pitch as well as applying pressure in the final third, he truly flourished in the anchoring role, the formidable youngster demonstrated all of the characteristics that will make him a key player for Swansea this season.
If we can now start picking up points away from home as well as continuing in the same vein at The Liberty, I feel the Swans have all the attributes to retain their Premier League status