Defeat by the reigning Premier League Champions on Saturday saw Swansea condemned to their first defeat at the Liberty since February 6th. But Abi Davies is still a very proud Swan.
Brendan Rodgers made just one change to the side that drew at Anfield, as Scott Sinclair returned to the starting line up in place of Joe Allen who had to settle for a place among the substitutes, having picked up a calf injury in midweek. Sinclair regained his usual position meaning Wayne Routledge was drafted into a more central role.
The Swans got the game under way and were the quicker to settle, as they demonstrated from the outset that they were not going to sit back and absorb the onslaught of pressure that Utd would try to apply but instead continued to play their possession-based football that has served them so well thus far.
Not looking at all over-awed during early exchanges, it was the hosts that created the first opening when Mark Gower lofted a perfectly weighted ball out to Angel Rangel who picked out Danny Graham inside the box, the striker headed the ball down for Gower who could not connect properly and his effort fired wide of the target.
With 10 minutes on the clock, disaster struck for the home side. Under minimal pressure from the opposition, Rangel conceded possession on the edge of the area, presenting the ball straight to Ryan Giggs who squared the ball to Hernandez. The Mexican made no mistakes in slotting the ball past Vorm to score his 5th league goal of the season. The goal came against the run of play and most frustratingly stemmed from a mistake of ours as opposed to Utd’s good play.
The goal changed the whole complexion of the first half. From dictating in the opening minutes, Swansea found themselves on the back foot after conceding, sitting deep, allowing Utd to continually press forward and as the half wore on, Swans began to show their opponents too much respect.
With a quarter of the match gone, Swansea created a golden opportunity to haul themselves back to level terms, however after being supplied by Routledge, Scott Sinclair let the ball slip through his legs with an open goal ahead of him. Few other chances in the opening half meant the sides were separated only by Hernandez goal going in at the break.
Swansea made their first change at the interval as Joe Allen was introduced into the action in place of Wayne Routledge. The Swans started the second half much like they started the first – in the ascendancy, as Allen made an instant impact setting up Sinclair who’s effort forced a corner from De Gae.
Ten minutes into the half, Mark Gower supplied a great ball into the box for Danny Graham however it just wouldn’t fall for the striker as he was unable to turn or get any real connection on the ball .
For all of our good play, I feel it was the speed in which we were going through the phases that proved costly. Manchester United were able to move from their own penalty area into an advanced and attacking position of the field with 3 or 4 touches of the ball. Despite our normal approach working well and allowing us to create chances, we never seemed confident enough in our ability to try a different more direct route, and I feel that this diversity is what’s needed against sides like Utd.
Having said this, Swansea still had optimum opportunites to get back on level terms as they showed their never say die attitude. Continuing to fight for an equaliser until the death, they were attacking with real purpose.
Utd were still looking dangerous when in possession as they had chances to extend their lead, Phil Jones came closest to doubling Utd’s advantage however his shot was denied by the woodwork.
Despite the pressure amounted by both sides in the second half, the scoreline remained 0-1 meaning the Swans unbeaten home run in the top flight has finally come to an end.
Having been arguably Swansea’s best outfield player so far this season, Nathan Dyer continued to demonstrate the attributes that have made him such a difficult player to mark as he skipped past a host of Man Utd’s world class players on more than one occasion. I feel it was a compliment to Dyer’s game when Ferguson decided to remove Evra from the game when on a yellow card- with the Reds manager evidently aware of the threat the diminutive winger poses.
Swansea have never been renowned for posing a large threat from corners, however I felt Mark Gower’s deliveries on Saturday caused mass problems for Utd’s defence as chances came from most.
Leon Britton once again demonstrated why he is such a pivotal figure in our side as the midfielder has a 98% pass completion rate against the 19 time Premier League Champions.
The importance of making the most of your chances in this division was apparent again, as once more our clinical ability in front of goal left us ruing missed opportunities.
However, feeling aggrieved following a 1-0 defeat to such a prestigious side, reinforces how far the Swans have come over recent years.