Brushing off any signs of a hangover, Abi Davies headed north east to the bustling metropolis of Birmingham to see if her beloved Swans could get that all important first win away. She wasn’t disappointed.
Swansea City headed into their first game of 2012 as the only Premier League side still awaiting their first away victory of the season. Having acquired two points from their previous two games, Swansea went into Monday’s fixture hoping to record their first victory in five. They faced an Alex McLeish side full of confidence and looking to build on their 3-1 victory over Chelsea on Saturday.
The Swans, who had failed to score in their previous two away fixtures, got off to a sumptuous start, taking the lead within the opening 5 minutes of the game when Nathan Dyer pounced on a defensive error from Warner, using his pace to serge into the box and drill home his second goal of the campaign.
Danny Graham made an assertive start, applying maximum pressure on Villa’s defence and keeper, forcing them into mistakes early on. Alex McLeish’ side had a perfect chance to haul themselves back on level terms when Agbonlahor rose to meet a great cross into the box, however his header didn’t test Vorm as he couldn’t direct on target.
With his only other Premier League action coming in the form of a cameo second half appearance during Swansea’s 2-2 draw at Molineux, Andrea Orlandi was handed his full top flight debut at Villa Park and from the outset looked to seize the opportunity playing in behind Danny Graham, linking play from midfield to our striker, and it was the Spaniard who came close to doubling Swansea’s advantage, when his sweetly struck effort fired marginally wide of the post.
Both Gaby Agbonlahor and N’Zogbia were given far too much space and freedom down the right wing, as Rangel often got caught out of position as the Catalan was unable to keep up with the pacey forwards.
Swansea City were in control of the first half with Dyer capitalising on shaky defensive displays from both Warnock and Dunne, in order to advance into dangerous areas on numerous occasions. Having often been criticised for his failure to deliver a top quality ball into the box, the diminutive winger did so with much effect on Monday, almost setting up Danny Graham however the strikers shot was kept out by Guzan.
Nathan Dyer continued to command play down the right flank with some awe-inspiring close control, demonstrating all of the attributes that have made him one of the most highly sought after players by a number of other Premier League sides.
Swansea were counter attacking with far more conviction and pace, and seemed to have the perfect balance of enthralling build up play and penetration.
Danny Graham came close to doubling the Swans lead once more when great vision from Kemy Agustien saw him find Neil Taylor out on the left wing, the Welsh international delivered a great ball into the box for Graham who’s effort fired marginally wide.
Making their most emphatic start to a game away from home, Swansea were buoyant pushing forward, looking to extend their slender advantage. The Welsh side started the second half much like the first- in the ascendancy. The visitors were eventually rewarded for their persistence and endeavour to pressure the hosts when another Villa error lead to Swansea’s second goal of the match. Danny Graham’s pressure on Guzan, forced the keeper into a poor clearance which fell straight to Neil Taylor. The full back played the ball down the line for Routledge who found Graham inside the penalty area, after his initial strike was parried away the ball fell back to Routledge who made no mistakes in slotting the ball home, scoring his first ever goal in the top flight.
Brendan Rodgers made his first change just before the hour mark when Joe Allen replaced Andrea Orlandi. Despite Allen doing a sterling job when introduced, I feel we lost a lot of our momentum and assertiveness pushing forward when Orlandi departed.
Following his first goal in 116 Premier League appearances, Wayne Routledge seemed to grow in confidence after his goal as he started to get the better of Collins. Aston Villa tried to amount a comeback, with Stephen Ireland and Collins coming close to halving the home sides deficit.
Swansea displayed why they have one of the best defensive records in the league as they worked as a unit to keep out Villa’s attack. With little over 10 minutes remaining, Scott Sinclair replaced the sensational Nathan Dyer, and it was the substitute who set up Swansea’s final chance of the game as he played through Joe Allen, denied by the onrushing Guzan, who injured himself in the process of the save.
Despite Villa’s attempted comeback at the start of the second half, Swansea’s defence remained colossal in order to sustain the onslaught of pressure and Rodgers’ side worked hard to ensure they kept their 9th clean sheet of the campaign, with Williams and Caulker’s centre back partnership continuing to grow and impress.
Featuring in Swansea’s last four games, Kemy Agustien is quickly consolidating his place in the starting XI, offering a great physical presence and yet again showing great vision and skill, the Dutch midfielder was involved in a number of Swansea attacks.
Delivering a sumptuous performance on Monday, Nathan Dyer constantly proved a threat on the right wing, breezing past Warnock with ease, and with competition for his place in the starting XI, Dyer staked the perfect claim for a permanent place back in the starting line up.
Having rarely featured since Brendan Rodgers took the helm, Andrea Orlandi delivered an outstanding performance at Villa Park, retaining possession well, linking play from midfield, seemingly up to the pace of the Premier League, I feel the Spaniard deserves to retain his place in the Swans side