Match Reports

The good, the bad, the very, very ugly: Swansea’s season in 90 minutes

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The full-time whistle blew at the Weston Homes Stadium and Swansea City had beaten Peterborough United 3-2 away from home but the reaction amongst fans and, ultimately, the head coach was far from jubilant.

Article by @scfctheo

It was, in truth, 90 minutes of football that encapsulated Swansea City’s maiden campaign under the leadership of Russell Martin – some good, some bad, some very, very ugly.

The first half, on the whole, was a very satisfactory 45 minutes of football from the Swans – having 78% of the ball and limiting a relegation-threatened Posh side to just 1 shot (off-target) in the entire first period.

Analysing the game with a cool head and after having some time to digest the madness, I think it’s fair to say that the 18-minute blip (we’ll call it that) was an anomaly in the game – aside from that relatively short period, it was a good away performance.

Martin’s men threatened offensively, too, having 9 shots of their own (4 on target) and, after 44 minutes, opened the scoring through Michael Obafemi – a familiar sight at the moment.

It was a half of football where Swansea played with complete control and dominance – albeit against the worst side in the division – but the Swans had made the task look very straightforward and would’ve hoped to add a few goals to their tally in the second half.

After the whistle to kick-off the second half, however, came an inexplicable 18-minute capitulation – something painfully characteristic of Swansea City on the road this season.

Martin described it near-on perfectly in a reflective post-match interview, explaining;

‘That’s why we are where we are in the league. On our day we are capable of producing some incredible moments, some brilliant football. But the gap between when we are really good and when we are not is too big. You saw that in one game today.

It’s a pinpoint analysis of where Swansea are at right now and, more importantly, the changes and improvements that need to be made ahead of next season.

They have time and time again been a mess at the back away from home this season and are still making mistakes, both with the ball and positionally, in their own third that they’ve been making since the opening week of the season – Kyle Naughton slipping over and giving the ball straight to Jack Marriott in his own box for the second goal is typical of that. 

There were positives, though, and it’s important to focus on them equally – after all, Swansea did win the game and that shouldn’t be forgotten.

The most pleasing aspect is that Wednesday night’s performance demonstrated a continued, steady improvement in the final third. The Swans recorded an expected goals (xG) total of 2.84 – their highest so far this season – with Joel Piroe and Michael Obafemi both amongst the goals once again.

A sometimes toothless attack has been a criticism thrown at Swansea numerous times this season, with their 1 shot on target away at Blackpool last weekend a prime example of Martin’s side failing to create despite boasting 76% of the possession.

Assistant coach Matt Gill addressed this topic prior to the Peterborough encounter, telling the press:

‘We all recognise that we need to be more proactive in the final third, I think everyone would admit that’.

Swansea recorded an xG total of 0.54 in their disappointing trip to Bloomfield Road and Wednesday night was an emphatic response to that and a continuation of a promising improvement in chance creation.

Another major plus-point is some of the intangible qualities that Swansea showed in Cambridgeshire.

Russell Martin rightly praised his players ‘courage and mentality’ after the game – not before criticising the fact that they let the game become a contest in the first place.

In truth, it would have been easy for Swansea’s players to completely fold after going 2-1 down in the 63rd minute of the game, but they managed to calm the game down and, eventually, find two goals to win the game – they deserve credit for that.

Analysing the game with a cool head and after having some time to digest the madness, I think it’s fair to say that the 18-minute blip (we’ll call it that) was an anomaly in the game – aside from that relatively short period, it was a good away performance.

For context, Grant McCann’s hosts failed to record a shot on target outside of the 18 minutes after half-time, in fact, their only 2 shots on target in the entire game were the goals that they scored.

For the most part, it was a controlled, dominant Swansea display and it is a shame that it was almost thrown away by one, as the gaffer put it, ‘messy’ spell.

As suggested at the top of the piece, if you were to show someone who hadn’t watched Swansea this season one game to explain the situation – it would be this one. Frustration, anger, excitement, enjoyment – all of these are emotions felt by the Jack Army when watching their team at the moment, especially away from home as demonstrated against Peterborough, Blackpool and Sheffield United recently.

There is a process ongoing under Russell Martin, we are roughly where we would expect to be at this stage in the aforementioned process, and there remains patience and positivity for the future amongst the fanbase.

The boys now go into a clash with a vulnerable, depleted Birmingham City side back at the Swansea.com this weekend with the chance to head into a valuable international break off the back of successive wins.

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