Swansea City began their new Championship season with a disappointing 2-1 defeat away at Leicester City.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Swans have lost their opening game of the season as we threw away a 1-goal lead thanks to excellent header from Ashley Williams, converting Mark Gower’s outswinging corner kick on 17 minutes.
3,136 Jack supporters travelled to the game and after a police escort to the stadium, the official travel coaches finally arrived at the ground at around 2:30pm and it didn’t take the Jack Army long to get into full voice.
After watching the Swans perform today, you could say it’s back to the drawing board for manager Paulo Sousa. We did ok in the first 45 minutes, we kept things tight and we limited them to only a few chances, but after the departure of Joe Allen who picked up an injury, things went downhill for us fast.
The second half was complete domination from the Foxes, as our defence looked extremely vulnerable and in all honesty the scoreline didn’t do the match justice.
There were no surprises in Paulo Sousa’s line-up, the gaffer chose a 4-5-1 formation with Shaun MacDonald getting picked for the attacking midfield role just behind the lone striker, Gorka Pintado.
Rangel – Monk – Williams – Tate
Dyer – Britton – Allen – MacDonald – Gower
It was a tight opening to the game with neither getting a chance to create a clear-cut chance on the opposition’s goal. The likes of Mark Gower, Joe Allen and Shaun MacDonald tried their luck from long range but they were all poor efforts.
The back four looked comfortable and solid in the first 45 minutes as we made it difficult for the hosts to create chances, but it was the complete opposite in the second when he gifted them time and space and golden opportunities on goal.
Our midfield play was different to that of Martinez’s. It didn’t flow as much and the 5-man midfield didn’t line across the park like they did last season. We seemed to pass in triangles a lot of the time with a few more long range passes.
Nathan Dyer was looking impressive out on the right and he was causing their left back problems throughout the game with his pace and skill.
We took the lead after 17 minutes, it was a rare goal directly from a corner, something us Swans fans rarely see. Mark Gower sent in an outswinging cross from the right, just in front of the away fans, and Ashley Williams rose well to thunder home an unstoppable header to send the 3,100 jacks into raptures and the Welsh international defender looked just as thrilled to put us in front.
We were dealt a blow 8 minutes after our goal though when Joe Allen picked up an injury, and he had to go off to be replaced by new signing Jordi Lopez. This was the talk amongst the fans, and the manager after the game as we all agreed that Allen’s departure affected us badly in the second period. Like Sousa said, we lost that stability in the middle third and as a result our defence had no protection from the 5-man midfield. We looked vulnerable whenever Leicester attacked us and we could count ourselves lucky that full time scoreline was only 2-1.
Our lead looked pretty safe until the break but the hosts did create a few chances but there wasn’t much to worry about before the ref blew for half time.
Pearson made two changes for the start of the second period and these proved to be two superb changes from the Foxes manager as they both scored to reverse the scoreline in an excellent 3-minute spell for the home side.
Leicester City had a great chance to put the scores level when the referee awarded them a penalty kick. They played a neat one two to get inside the penalty area and their player was brought down by Williams’ oustanding foot. A soft and easily-avoided penalty but thankfully Dorus de Vries saved Steve Howard’s low shot, the second time he’s done that in 2 weeks!
Unfortunately, all that did was keep the score down as Waghorn netted an equaliser on 69 minutes thanks to a deflection off Ashley Williams. It was an unlucky deflection, but the goalscorer was unmarked just inside the box, a pass was squared to the subsitute and his effort came off the defender and went past the unfooted and helpless De Vries.
3 minutes later, Leicester then took the lead, and it was disappointing again to see us concede from a set piece, something that Paulo Sousa is looking to work on. A corner was headed back into the box at the far post and N’Guessan was free to slot the ball past our Dutch keeper, who could only get his finger-tips to the shot.
The home side completely dominated the remainder of the game and they attacked continuously up until the final whistle. Our defence looked vulnerable and Leicester were finding it easy to cut through our weak back four. We were too laid back at times, there were occasions when we gifted them possession in dangerous areas. Examples included when assumed their player was offside when he wasn’t (we didn’t play the offside trap), and when we just assumed the ball had gone out of play and it hadn’t, we failed to track back and Leicester were able to get into another goalscoring position. Their finishing was poor and they should have scored more goals for a more convincing scoreline.
We struggled to create any decent chances for the whole 90 minutes. Sousa made changes but they didn’t improve us. Shaun MacDonald struggled and he’s not the answer to our attacking midfielder. Angel Rangel and Jordi Lopez didn’t look fit or match sharp and there are questions to be asked about our defence. Alan Tate gave their winger far too much time and space and his awareness was also poor.
It was a lacklustre performance but we shouldn’t take too much notice from today’s show. It’s still early days and we need some key players to return, particularly Darren Pratley, Ferrie Bodde and Joe Allen. We also found it difficult to get Gorka Pintado involved. The Spaniard wasn’t a threat at all and at least when Stephen Dobbie came on he managed to get a shot on target.
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De Vries – 7
Was solid throughout and it was good to see him catching crosses with confidence rather than punching them.
Rangel – 5
Looks unfit and struggled throughout. Far too many errors and conceded possession too often.
Monk – 6
Solid in the first half but struggled in the second half, was probably the best out of a bad bunch.
Williams – 5
Great goal, but conceded a needless penalty. Would get an 8 for first half showing, but second half we were a shambles at the back.
Tate – 5
Some people thought he had a good game throughout, but I thought he was very poor. He was slow, he lacked awareness of what was around him and he gave Leicester far too much space and time down their right wing.
Gower – 6
Offered us very little in attack
Britton – 5
Struggled after Allen’s departure and didn’t offer us any stability in the middle of the park like he usually does
Allen – 7
He pleased Sousa in an excellent 25 minute spell and his departure due to injury cost us badly. We need him back asap
MacDonald – 5
Offered us nothing in the attacking midfield role, can’t shoot and looked out of his depth.
Dyer – 7
The only outfield player to come out of this game with any credit. Worked hard through, and his pace and skill caused problems all game. He seemed to beat a man every time he got the ball.
Pintado – 5
He offered us nothing, didn’t win much in the air but the midfield should get most of the blame as we didn’t get him involved at all.
Lopez – 5
Looks unfit and no wonder he didn’t start, he’s not ready yet for first team football. 10/10 for diving though
Orlandi – 6
Didn’t offer us much when he came on but he did more than MacDonald did. He got the ball out wide to our only danger-man Dyer and got a cross into the box.
He did more in 15 minutes than Pintado did all game, and that was a low long range shot that the goalkeeper saved.
“We started well, we were working hard and we were winning – but the key point was when we lost Joe Allen because it was then we lost control and the link between the sectors on the field.
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