Having lost manager Brendan Rodgers to Liverpool, things could have gone downhill for Swansea. But, with Laudrup as manager the side appear to have stepped up and found another gear this season, playing better football and scoring more goals. Laudrup’s side are sitting in 8th and realistically could have one eye on Europe if their form continues and Michu continues to score goals.
More cutting edge
The most obvious area of improvement has been that Swansea have shown more cutting edge this season. Last year the majority of the play was focused at the back, in Swansea’s own half. There is a slight difference in this; Swansea enjoyed 31% of their possession in their own half year, compared to 29% this year. Resultantly they enjoy 24% of their possession in the opposition half, compared to 22% last year, again a slight improvement. This season though Swansea are less goal shy, attempting 14.4 shots per game, compared to 12.4 last season. As a result they have scored more goals per game; just 1.2 goals per game under Rodgers, but now a better rate of 1.6 per game.
The reason behind an increase in goals is mainly down to shrewd acquisitions, obviously through Michu, who has scored 12 goals this season. The same number of goals scored at the end of the season by Swansea’s top scorer for 2011/12, Danny Graham. Clearly this has made a huge difference as it has given the side greater options and versatility. That being said, the club had lost two key attacking players in Sigurdsson and Scott Sinclair. With the loss of these two key performers Laudrup arguably had a very tough job on to resurrect Swansea’s hopes.
His great signings have made the difference. Two men who get less praise, but have been equally effective, are Ki, signed from Celtic and De Guzman, another player brought in from La Liga. The former Getafe manager is using his knowledge of the Spanish game to recruit top players at cheap prices, something that few other managers are capable of doing. These two players sit at the base of the Swansea midfield and have really cushioned the blow of losing Allen to Liverpool. Both players are mobile as well as technically gifted. The signing of Hernandez from Valencia has also managed to soften the blow of Sinclair (who now can’t get a game at City).
Another key change has been the introduction of Chico, also from La Liga. Chico has been a defensive rock this season in a Swansea side that now concede less goals. The three goals conceded at home to Norwich at the weekend will obviously be a blot on their record, but generally speaking Swansea have been tighter at the back this year.
Whilst Rodgers and before him Martinez laid the foundations for the current success at Swansea, Laudrup looks to have taken them up a gear. Of course there is a long way to go, but sitting in 8th is indicative of the form they’ve shown this year, with the 0-2 victory at Arsenal perhaps the highlight. Laudrup suffered big blows in the summer with Allen and Sinclair both leaving, however he has responded to this by bringing in players who have made Swansea better collectively. De Guzman and Ki have been as good as Allen has for Liverpool and have made Swansea better in centre midfield. Whilst the goals provided by Michu are absolutely priceless.