On another amazing weekend for Welsh sport our resident Swansea City fan, Abi Davies made her way back from London with a smile as wide as Swansea Bay after an excellent win at Fulham.
On the back of their sensational 1-0 victory over Manchester City last weekend, Swansea knew that a win at Craven Cottage would see them move to 8th in the league with only one other Premier League fixtures being played on Saturday.
Gylfi Sigurdsson’s second brace since joining Swansea, along with a Joe Allen strike guided the Swans to their fourth away win of the campaign, in doing so, the Welsh side all but mathematically secured their Premier League status and now look set to further prove critics wrong as they seek to finish the league in the top half of the table.
The only change to the side that started last weekend’s game against Manchester City came in defence as Ashley Williams run of 169 consecutive league games came to an end, with the Welsh international suffering from a virus. Williams absence meant club captain Gary Monk partnered on loan centre back Steven Caulker for the first time.
The euphoria of last weekends win seemed to play no part in Swansea’s performance as it was back to the grindstone, with the whole side demonstrating all the credentials that has seen them earn mass success so far this season.
Having been full of praise for Fulham’s attack force prior to kick off, I was disappointed in the threat they posed to the Swansea back line on Saturday as they failed to substantially enforce themselves on the game with Swansea seemingly going from strength to strength in the top flight, Martin Jol’s side were second best for large spells of the afternoon.
The Cottagers made a promising start to the game with both Dempsey and Dembale forcing Michel Vorm into making two expertly saves. However Swansea were first to stamp their authority on the game as they soon got a foothold, with their midfield trio of Leon Britton, Joe Allen and Gylfi Sigurdsson controlling much of the play in the centre whilst both Routledge and Sinclair were posing large threats out wide.
Reacting positively to his penalty miss against Manchester City, Scott Sinclair appeared to be having one of his best games of the season at Craven Cottage, with the winger seemingly adding more versatility to his game, eliminating the predictability by not cutting in field at every opportunity. The winger came close to breaking the deadlock following a neat one two inside the area with Routledge, however Sinclair couldn’t direct his effort on target.
Having almost opened the scoring 5 minutes earlier, Gylfi Sigurdsson gave the visitors the advantage 33 minutes into the first half following some superb build up play from the Welsh side. Wayne Routledge’ delivery into the area found Sinclair in acres of space, the winger side footed the ball across the face of goal and Sigurdsson headed past Schwarzer in order to break the deadlock 10 minutes from the interval.
Swansea came out of the blocks a far superior outfit in the second half, commanding proceedings they dictated the pace of the match, pushing forward with a real air of confidence and conviction, pouncing on loose balls and not allowing Fulham’s danger men any time to play their way into the game.
Despite initial concerns amongst Swans fans surrounding whether Monk would be able to provide sufficient cover for arguably the most competent centre back in the Premier League, I feel that both Caulker and Monk combined and complimented each other impeccably with Swansea not found wanting in Ashley Williams absence.
Once the Welsh side got into their stride, Fulham were unable to knock them as they continued with their crisp passing and sumptuous movements throughout. They further made their dominance count 20 minutes after the restart when Routledge played a neat one two inside the penalty area with Sigurdsson, before the Icelandic midfielder slotted the ball past Schwarzer for his and Swansea’s second of the game.
The build up to the goal epitomised many of the reasons the Swans have enjoyed such success. Outfoxing their opponents with their speedy and nifty footwork. Something we have become accustom to seeing the Swans do this season.
Swansea compiled further frustration on Fulham’s afternoon, when Joe Allen skipped past Senderos before firing home from the edge of the penalty area. From a Fulham perspective, it was a poor goal to concede, however no-one could deny that the score was no more than Swansea deserved.
Sinclair came close to adding a fourth for the Welsh side following yet more great combination work between he and Routledge, however his shot blasted over the cross bar. Full time Fulham 0-3 Swansea.
Joe Allen’s work ethic was of the highest ilk at The Cottage, box to box, the midfield dynamo worked tirelessly both on and off the ball, igniting numerous Swansea attacks whilst also pressurising Fulham players during their small spells in possession in order to regain possession and limit the London clubs threat.
Swansea continue to prove to doubters that they are far from a carbon copy of Blackpool, as they have not faltered in their bid to take the top flight by storm.
Fitting into the league, proving an absolute pleasure to watch and a credit to the top flight, Swansea’s utmost belief in their philosophy is paying off as they continue to get stronger and stronger as the season progresses.
With Premier League survival no longer an issue, I feel Swansea should already be looking to prepare and build for next season. In doing so, starting contract talks with Gylfi Sigurdsson. Undoubtedly the most inspiring signing of the January transfer window, the Icelandic midfielder has slotted straight into the ‘Swansea way’ providing just what Swansea were lacking in the first half of the campaign. A natural finisher, set piece specialist with a work ethic replicated by every player that dons the Swansea shirt, capturing his signature could prove pivotal for the Swans.
The match however, soon paled into insignificance when news broke about Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba. Football was put into perspective and thoughts and prayers immediately turned to the health of the Bolton midfielder.