Saturday, 21 February 2015

Swansea 2-1 Man Utd - Player Ratings

Josh Kilmister gives his verdict on today's famous win

Swansea City have done the league double over Manchester United. When all was starting to look a little shaky in the Swans’ camp, out came Garry Monk with a stroke of genius to put us just three points away from that all important forty, and just nine points from fifth place. 

Starting XI

Lukasz Fabianksi – 8.5

Fabianski is definitely marking his name in Swansea history, and if it wasn’t already clear enough that he is a huge step forward from Vorm then his performance against United proved it. Such a commanding figure in the area, even United’s £300m side struggled to find a way past him. The one time they did sneak through was an exquisite finish from Ander Herrera, which couldn’t have been further in the bottom corner. Every ball that came into the box was either claimed or cleared by the big Pole, and his distribution wasn’t half bad either. 

One thing worth noting is his sheer passion after the final whistle. Not only did he jump up and down shouting, he even gave the east stand a cheeky knee slide – that’s exactly what I like to see from a player!

Neil Taylor – 8

From what I could see, the change in formation against United definitely benefited Tayls. Not only did he make excellent use of the space that he isn’t normally given to make his impact felt on the front foot, but also he was a vital part in a back four that was solid for ninety minutes. Linking with Jonjo Shelvey to create Ki’s equaliser, his ability on the ball has improved incredibly since September and he’s now starting to look like the player he was before that injury. 

Ashley Williams – 8.5

Talk about bodies on the line, Ash threw himself around the defensive third of the pitch like a mad man and his energy in defence is just one part of his game that keeps us alive game after game. He needed a big game today with the quality that United have and he certainly delivered. His defence was organised perfectly and that complimented his leadership skills, while his individual game was equally impressive, with some vital blocks, tackles and headers getting the ball out of harms way. 

Federico Fernandez – 8.5

I read on WalesOnline before the game that Fede told his pal Lionel Messi that he’d report back to him after the game in the Argentina ‘WhatsApp’ chat, but I think Di Maria might have his phone turned off until tomorrow. An all-round excellent performance from Fernandez, who game after game shows his knowledge of the game with his defensive positioning. I’m not sure what the situation is with his English, but whatever language he’s speaking it seems to be working. His awareness of what’s going on around him is second-to-none, and his reading of the game is up there with the best I’ve seen. Him and Williams compliment himself excellently, and it’s a partnership I hope will continue for years to come. 

Kyle Naughton – 8

With the lack of wingers today it was down to our two fullbacks to provide that extra width in the attack and Naughton executed his role in the back four with near perfection. Up against Di Maria he was always going to get beaten a few times, but he made sure that it wasn’t too often. You’d think from watching him that he’d been with us for a hell of a lot longer than he has, and for me he is everything for us now that Rangel was in his prime – solid at the back with the pace and flare to push up field. He looks to have been an excellent signing so far and as long as that opinion stands come May, I’ll be delighted. 

Jack Cork – 9 (Man of the match)

My man of the match award honestly could have gone to anybody, but I’ve given it to Jack Cork; here’s why. Given a demanding task of man-marking 6’4” Marouane Fellaini, Cork sat at the base of a rare diamond shape in the Swans’ midfield providing extra protection for the front four. As well as breaking up and slowing down the play when necessary, Cork offered himself going forward when possible and played a huge part in securing all three points. From what I can recall he misplaced one pass all game, and that was an audacious through ball. Reading the game is something Leon Britton is excellent at, but I think Cork might even better him at that, while his experience as both a sitting and a central midfielder allows him to grab the game by the scruff. Like Naughton, he has settled into the team well and looks like he’s been here for years. 

Ki Sung-Yeung – 9

Ki struggled against West Brom and looked very tired (which was acceptable given his contributions to Korea), but the extended break seemed to do him the world of good. With Cork sitting behind, Ki was allowed to charge forward and make an impact in the final third, and that he did, bagging himself a second goal in three games after getting in behind Luke Shaw to tap in from a Shelvey cross. 

Jonjo Shelvey – 8

Since his return from suspension Jonjo has managed to go from villain to hero, and this formation does him the world of good. We’ve established that he’s a bit rubbish at defending, and he’s far too good to be sitting on the bench. I’ve said in the past that because of the strength in our squad, he would be nothing but an understudy to Gylfi – but the slight tweak to the system allows them both to flourish. I’ll admit he had me on edge with a few dodgy clearances, but his deflected shot that beat De Gea just about makes up for it.  Even his better performances are usually let down by his laziness off the ball, but that wasn’t the case today. His energy to chase the ball around the field was admirable, while picking up two assists in a game against United is something to be proud of. 

Gylfi Sigurdsson – 8

A three game ban gave Gylfi a much-needed rest, and he came back into the fold today to spearhead the midfield diamond. His usual pressing game worked a treat against a somewhat inexperienced United defence and, though chances were hard to come by, Gylfi had more support today than he usually would and his ability to pick out a pass certainly done us no harm in the final third. Replaced by Montero for the final twenty minutes, the Iceman wasn’t spectacular but still made a huge impact in the midfield. 

Wayne Routledge – 7.5

Though the formation told us Routledge was to play through the middle just behind Gomis, I think he shared that position with almost everyone in the midfield. Pushing out wide and even tracking back to help out in defence, I was impressed with Routs’ performance – particularly his work rate - on all accounts.  There were a couple of occasions where he failed to capitalise on some half-decent chances, but I’m sure if he continues to play through the middle that composure will come. 

Bafetimbi Gomis – 7.5

In a Swansea side not exactly famous for our ability to score from (or defend) corners, Gomis did extraordinarily well to come close from not one, but two corners in the opening minutes of the game. His defensive efforts can’t go amiss either, with the physical side of his game being put into use when we needed it most. Of course he made a few mistakes, and of course those mistakes will be escalated because he’s Bafetimbi Gomis, but this performance from the French international is one of his best yet in a Swans shirt. Having already had one goal taken away from him against West Ham this season, I can’t see him giving up on claiming his goal today. If he can keep putting in performances like he did against United, I remain confident that he can start finding the back of the net more often. 


Jefferson Montero – 7 (for Sigurdsson, 71)

Only on for twenty minutes but made huge impact. When United’s Antonio Valencia looked to be causing problems, the introduction of Jeff meant Valencia had to play out the remainder of the game in his own half. Montero looked lively when he was on and if this system remains, we’ll have to find a way to fit him in – it’s as simple as that.

Jordi Amat – 6 (for Shelvey, 90+2)

If ratings were given on the basis of how well the player performed for the time they were on the pitch then Amat would be my man of the match. Didn’t put a foot wrong but those feet weren’t on the field for long, but he did rise to meet one cross with a header. The Spaniard’s been unfortunate that our two central defenders have been in such good form, while the only time one of them was forced out of the side he was injured himself. 


Louis van Monk? Garry van Gaal? Whatever you want to call him, the side he put out today was a stroke of genius. After recent criticism of the teams desire to win games, this performance showed that although we can’t realistically qualify for Europe and relegation is more or less an impossibility, there is still plenty to play for in the Swans camp. Our performance today would’ve sent me home happy even had we come away with nothing, but leaving with three points and the double over Man United makes it just that little bit better. 

Our next two games come away at Burnley and Spurs meaning that we won’t have the advantage that our incredible crowd gave us today, but if we perform to the same levels as we did this time out, I’m confident that when we line up to face Liverpool at home, we’ll be past – or at least at – that forty point mark. 

You can follow Josh on Twitter @JoshKilmister