Who would have expected Wolves to suddenly find their teeth on Saturday at The Liberty? Certainly not most of the sensible football betters that is for sure as well as our resident Swansea expert, Abi Davies.
Brendan Rodgers made two changes to the Swans side for Saturday’s fixture against Wolves, to that which had picked up 4 points from their previous 2 matches. Andrea Orlandi and Gary Monk were handed rare starts in an experimental 3-6-1 formation, meaning both full backs Taylor and Rangel were omitted.
Despite the formation’s potential, Swansea were too often left exposed at the back as a result of playing three centre-backs. With Gary Monk playing central and Williams and Caulker seemingly unsure of their roles as both played out in wider positions.
I feel the system would have worked to far greater effect had Rodgers opted for two natural full backs and one centre back.
With the pace that Curtis Obeng possesses I feel an appearance from the youngster on Saturday could have taught us far more about how far away the defender is from a regular first team role whilst also handing him valuable Premier League experience.
With Dorus De Vries back at The Liberty for the first time since Swansea’s play off semi final victory over Nottingham Forest, the Dutch keeper would have been hoping to replicate the performance level delivered in his Premier League debut against Manchester City last weekend, in order to help Wolves finish their campaign with as much dignity and pride as possible.
However, after conceding the fastest goal of the Premier League campaign along with some fantastic, direct football from the home side, Wolves were looking a deflated side, trailing 3-0 with just 15 minutes played.
It took less than a minute for the home side to open the scoring when Scott Sinclair provided a great delivery into the box for Andrea Orlandi who rose and connected superbly to loop his header over De Vries and score his first Premier League goal. Swansea were straight on the attack again after the restart and were quick to double their advantage when Sigurdsson played a perfectly timed and weighted ball forward for Joe Allen to run onto. The Welsh international’s shot was helped by a deflection off Richard Stearman, leaving Dorus De Vries with no chance of denying Allen his 4th goal of the season.
The difference in class between the two sides was prevalent early on in the first half as Swansea looked set to compile further misery on already relegated Wolves season.
Swansea were playing far less square balls as they pushed forward with real authority and direction at every opportunity. They were further rewarded for this attacking approach when Nathan Dyer extended their advantage 15 minutes in, connecting with Orlandi’s superb ball across the face of goal in order to head past De Vries.
With Swansea playing 3 at the back, Wolves constantly looked to have one man free when on the attack and as a result were able to test Vorm frequently, with Jarvis in particular whipping a number of dangerous deliveries into the 18 yard box.
Having not scored since February 11th, Danny Graham almost got himself on the score sheet midway through the half when he latched onto a poor back pass intended for De Vries, however the keeper reacted well and made himself big in order to deny Graham.
Brendan Rodgers tactic to play three centre backs hindered Swansea as Fletcher, Doyle and Jarvis relentlessly found space to cause problems for the Swans back-line. With Williams and Caulker instinctively being drawn in field to complete central duties, Swansea midfielder’s did not track back to provide sufficient support defensively.
With 26 minutes played, Doyle, in acres of space out wide, delivered a precise cross into the box which was met by Fletcher who headed past Vorm to cut the deficit. Seemingly a warning for the Welsh side that they would be punished for any complacency.
With half an hour played, Graham scored his first goal in 11 matches and in doing so, restored Swansea’s three goal lead. Connecting with Dyer’s delivery before taking a touch, composing himself and slotting home his 13th Swansea goal.
Wolves response was instant as they continued to show the utmost spirit and determination, halving the deficit 10 minutes from half time when Swansea were again punished for their slack defensive work.
Brendan Rodgers elected to revert to a more traditional 4-4-2 formation after the interval as Neil Taylor entered the fray in place of arguably the best player of the first half- Andrea Orlandi. The Spaniard, as in previous appearances this season, constantly took on and got the better of defenders, picked out the runs of, and set up team mates, and was heavily involved in Swansea’s first half success.
Sigurdsson created two great opportunities to restore Swansea’s 3 goal margin instantly after the restart, with his first effort rebounding off the woodwork before his second was parried away to safety by De Vries who appeared far more assured at the start of the second half than he had the first.
With less than 10 minutes of the half played, David Edwards guided a powerful strike past Vorm before a sensational come back was completed when Jarvis hauled his side back on level terms with his second goal of the match. Showing more hunger to connect with the ball than Monk, he guided the ball past Vorm as the stadium was silenced.
Despite still awaiting his first victory in charge of Wolves, Terry Connor can feel nothing but pride after his side showed the greatest endeavour in order to deliver one of the most spirited performances of the season and record a point despite trailing for the majority of the game.
For the best part of the second period, the Midlands club showed grit and tenaciousness far superior to their counterparts, not allowing Swansea time on the ball they were not looking dejected or anything like a side condemned to relegation.
Replica to the squad, Wolves fans demonstrated nothing but pride, passion and loyalty towards their side and were a true credit to the club throughout.