Friday, 21 November 2014

A win at the Etihad is far from impossible

With the Swans scoring goals against big teams, and Man City looking shaky at the back, an upset could well be on the cards

One of the factors which which resulted in Michael Laudrup's departure last season was a supposed divide between ourselves and "top clubs", whereby you could essentially write off a proportion of games as dead rubbers, not expecting to get anything at all. 

This is something which Huw obviously had a problem with, and it's also something Garry Monk was keen to address from day one. A look at this season's results shows he's serious about it too. Two goals and a victory at United, two goals and a victory after going behind to Arsenal, two goals away to a Chelsea side who've been dominant this season (and who haven't conceded more than once to anybody since that game); these results tell their own story. Read between the lines of that story and an upset could be on the cards at the Etihad tomorrow.

I've already commented numerous times about our defence, but it really does deserve praise. Yes, I think we have looked shaky at full-back, but the proof is in the pudding and we've got the second best defence in the league, conceding just eleven goals in eleven games. Only Southampton boast a meaner defence, and when you consider Ashley Williams has had three defensive partners already this season it helps put into perspective how good we've been at the back. Against Everton we went down to ten men and still clung on for a point - in previous seasons (and at the same ground) we'd have wilted and got nothing.

There's more. Against Arsenal the Gunners rallied late, but time and time again the ball was cleared away. Ash & Kyle Bartley were imperious in the air, but what won us that game was defensive positioning, hard work and commitment. Arsenal were limited to half-chances for the entirety of the match, and by the end had reverted to launching balls into the box, which we dealt with comfortably time and again.

Against Man City tomorrow we'll need to show the same cohesion, discipline & graft, but if we do we can be confident of competing. Aguero is in a league of his own in the Premiership at the moment, having scored 12 in 11, but just because their star striker is on fire doesn't mean we can't get a result. As mentioned we've already scored twice against three of the "big four", so why not Man City? Especially with Kompany potentially unfit, the Swans could look to capitalise on the Champions' shaky back four. 

What's more, City's form has been far from impressive of late. Granted they won against United in the derby, but that's their only win in their last six so there'll definitely be a nervous air to the Etihad. If Newcastle & CSKA can win there, why not the Swans? Along with Chelsea, Swansea are the only team in the Premiership to not be trailing at half-time, and combine that with the fact we've scored first in seven of eleven matches (only conceding first to Southampton & Arsenal), and suddenly some kind of result starts sounding achievable. 

If we can score first, then all of a sudden Man City will be very nervous, and the crowd are liable to get on the team's back. From there on, who knows, but it's definitely worth flying out of the blocks in a bid to get ahead early doors. We've got the players to hurt any team now, and if we continue playing like we believe it we really could surprise lots of people this season.

Pleasingly, there's one thing you can be sure of from Garry Monk's Swansea City. If our opponents want the three points, they'll have to work hard for it. If you can say that before every game, you'll do well more often than not.