A hard month for the Swans
In all likelihood, Swansea will not look back fondly on September 2012.
September 26th, 2012
After starting the season with two comprehensive wins over QPR and West Ham, scoring eight goals and conceding none in return, everyone was falling over themselves to praise the work that Michael Laudrup had done in taking over where Brendan Rodgers had left.
Then September arrived, and began with a stuttering draw against a Steven Fletcher-inspired Sunderland. The Swans were the better side, managing nearly 64% possession and 15 shots at goal to Sunderland’s 4, and could probably count themselves unlucky not to win the match – but when followed by defeats against Aston Villa and Everton, it paints the picture of a long month for the South Wales club.
Indeed, it may be that the latter two sides have struck upon the formula necessary to defeat the side who have seen little but praise since their 2011 promotion to the Premier League. Neither team let Swansea settle in possession; their defensive strategy built around disrupting the elegant passing style of Laudrup’s side. Without that flow to their game, Swansea struggled and conceded five goals without netting even one in reply themselves and now – facing a trip to Stoke on Saturday to finish off the month’s fixtures – look at the prospect of a four game run yielding only a single point and, if a repeat of last year’s result at the Britannia Stadium is to be repeated, a three game losing streak.
One might be tempted to point to the loss of key players Joe Allen and Scott Sinclair in the summer transfer window as the source of their ill form, but in reply to that it should be pointed out that both David Moyes and Paul Lambert (with Norwich) managed to secure two league victories over the Swans last season as well. Instead it seems like they have simply come up against two managers who know very well how to counter a team who like time on the ball.
This is far from crisis time for Swansea, even if they fail to take anything from their trip to Stoke this weekend. They would still then have a record of a point per game, not far shy of what they managed over the course of last season, and with home games against Reading and Wigan making up their start to October, a chance to put the woes of September firmly behind them. Should this continue much longer though, should more clubs take heed of the tactics employed by both Lambert and Moyes, they could soon find themselves in a struggle; one which was not anticipated by many back when they polished off their 3-0 crushing of West Ham in August.