Tag Archives: Swansea City

Shock Results: Liverpool FC 2-3 Swansea City (January 2017)

Goalscorers: Fernando Llorente 48, 52, Roberto Firmino 55, 69, Gylfi Sigurdsson 74

Teams:

Liverpool FC: Simon Mignolet, Nathaniel Clyne, Ragnar Klavan, Dejan Lovren, James Milner, Emre Can (Divock Origi 70), Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Georginio Wijnaldum (Joel Matip 90), Philippe Coutinho (Daniel Sturridge 57), Roberto Firmino

Swansea City: Lukasz Fabianski, Federico Fernandez, Alfie Mawson, Kyle Naughton, Martin Olsson (Angel Rangel 79), Tom Carroll, Jack Cork, Leroy Fer (Jay Fulton 90), Wayne Routledge, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Fernando Llorente (Borja Baston 85)

Referee: Kevin Friend, Attendance: 53,169

In January 2017, Swansea City were already on their third manager of the season. Having sacked Francesco Guidolin in October and Bob Bradley two months later, it was now down to the former Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain assistant Paul Clement to try and save them from relegation.

Clement had taken over a few weeks earlier and his new side were bottom of the Premier League table when they made the trip to face Liverpool FC. They had never won in any of their previous 15 league visits to Anfield. However, they were about to pull off a historic result which destroyed any hopes Jurgen Klopp’s side had of catching runaway league leaders Chelsea.

Having conceded more goals than anyone else in the top-flight upto this point, Clement’s tactics were spot-on in the first half by allowing Liverpool to dominate possession but ensure they didn’t have any space to utilise it. The Reds, missing Sadio Mane who was on African Cup of Nations duty with Senegal looked blunt without him and were restricted to half-chances in the first half which ended goalless and there wasn’t much to write home about.

All that changed two minutes into the second half when Swansea took a shock lead. Gylfi Sigurdsson’s deep corner caused chaos in the penalty area. Centre-back Federico Fernandez kept the ball alive and Fernando Llorente reacted quickest to the loose ball for a simple tap-in. It was his seventh Premier League goal of the season. Four minutes later, the Spaniard and his side had amazingly doubled their lead.

Making his second debut for the club after signing permanently earlier in the week from Tottenham Hotspur, Tom Carroll delivered a devilish ball into the penalty area from the left-hand side. Llorente was much stronger than Dejan Lovren in the air and his well-placed downwards header went past Simon Mignolet. These two goals were Llorente’s first-ever away goals for the club since he’d joined in the summer from Sevilla.

Liverpool needed a swift response and Roberto Firmino provided it in the 55th minute. James Milner provided a great cross and infront of The Kop, Firmino was there to pounce. With 22 minutes to go, it looked like the Brazilian had got the Reds out of jail by providing the equaliser. Georginio Wijnaldum fed the ball into the danger area and Firmino produced another brilliant finish with skill and panache to match Llorente’s feat in scoring two in the match. Klopp’s side were now red-hot favourites to get the fifth goal but Swansea wouldn’t lie down and with 16 minutes to go, they went back infront.

Llorente and Carroll played their part and when Ragnar Klavan got in an interception; his block only fell into the path of Sigurdsson who scored his first goal in eight matches with a calm, deft strike. Despite enjoying nearly 75% possession, Liverpool’s 17-match unbeaten Premier League run at Anfield had come to an end and further setbacks with exits in both domestic cup competitions made it a miserable January 2017 for Jurgen Klopp.

Swansea avoided relegation thanks to the goals of Llorente, the assists of Sigurdsson and the determination of their side to pull off unlikely results like this victory on Merseyside.

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Premier League Files: Andre Ayew

Premier League Career: Swansea City (2015-2016), (2018), West Ham United (2016-2018)

Andre Ayew is currently experiencing the Turkish top-flight as he strides to move Fenerbahce away from surprising relegation danger. The Ghanaian is currently on-loan to the Turkish giants from Swansea City after his second spell with the south Welsh club ended with Premier League relegation in 2018.

Ayew has enjoyed individual success in his career. In 2011, he was crowned both BBC and Official African Footballer of the Year and comes from a footballing family. He has two brothers, who play professionally and his father was part of the Marseille squad that won the UEFA Champions League in 1993. Born in France just eight days before Christmas in 1989, Ayew actually started his youth career in Germany at 1860 Munich, which is where his father, Abedi Pele was playing at the time.

At the age of 10, he moved to Ghana to continue his education and he has since gone on to represent the senior international squad 77 times as of March 2019, scoring 14 times. His professional and European breakthrough came at Marseille, where his father had enjoyed immense success as a player. He made his senior debut for the club in 2007 and remained on their books for eight years.

During this time, he had useful season-long loan periods at Lorient and Arles-Avignon to continue his development and give him much-needed first-team playing experience. After those loan spells, it was current French international manager, Didier Deschamps who gave him his regular opportunity in the first-team at l’OM. He signed a new three-year contract on his return to Marseille in 2009, scored 11 times in 37 appearances and helped the team win the Coupe de Ligue. Ayew’s performances were widely noted, as he was voted Marseille’s Player of the Season and he was nominated for Young Player of the Year.

He then helped Marseille win the 2011 Trophee des Champions against Lille in Morocco by scoring a hat-trick. The Trophee des Champions is the equivalent of the FA Community Shield over in France. His fine form continued throughout the next few seasons and when Andre eventually left Stade Velodrome in the summer of 2015, he left with plenty of wonderful memories. In total, he scored 44 league goals in 159 appearances and scored two Ligue 1 hat-tricks.

On the international scene, Ayew has been a big player for his country. He hasn’t managed to win the African Cup of Nations yet, finishing third in 2008 and runner-up in both 2010 and 2015. His performances in the 2015 competition did see him both voted into the Team of the Tournament and finish as highest scorer in the competition with three goals. He was also part of the Ghana team that reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 2010 and scored in the 2014 competition against the United States although that ended in a 2-1 defeat.

The Premier League was waiting for him and it was Swansea City who snapped him up in 2015 as his contract had run out with his previous employers Marseille. Linking up well with Bafetimbi Gomis immediately, Ayew scored in Swansea’s first two home matches of the season which saw the Swans defeat both Newcastle United and Manchester United whilst he also found the target in a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge with reigning champions Chelsea. Swansea’s form was patchy all season and they finished only in 12th position but he continued to excel. He won Player of the Month honours in August 2015 and finished with figures of 12 goals in 34 games. He was the club’s top scorer in the Premier League.

In August 2016, he transferred to West Ham United for a club-record fee of £20.5 million but his debut at Stamford Bridge didn’t last long. A thigh injury forced him off in the 35th minute and he remained out of action for the first three months of the campaign. His first of nine goals for the Hammers in his 18-month spell actually came on Boxing Day 2016 in a 4-1 victory away at former club Swansea in a game that proved to be Bob Bradley’s last as Swansea manager.

In January 2018, West Ham sold him back to Swansea despite some initial reluctance from the player. It did mean he would play alongside his brother, Jordan Ayew but he never looked like recapturing the form he’d shown in his first stint at The Liberty Stadium. He failed to score in 12 Premier League appearances and Swansea were relegated from the top-flight, virtually condemned following a 1-0 home loss to relegation rivals Southampton on the final week of the campaign.

Ayew was never likely to stay at Swansea following their drop into the Championship and in July 2018, he completed a season-long loan move to Fenerbahce. As of March 2019, he has scored six times in the Turkish League.

The Managers: Brendan Rodgers

Premier League Clubs Managed: Swansea City (2011-2012), Liverpool FC (2012-2015), Leicester City (2019-PRESENT)

Brendan Rodgers is back in the Premier League having just been confirmed as Claude Puel’s successor at Leicester City. This is after he broke records and new grounds in the Scottish Premiership with Celtic. Back-to-back trebles and an unbeaten campaign with the Bhoys in 2016-2017, Rodgers was on-course to win more honours in this campaign, eight points clear of Rangers, led by his former Liverpool FC captain, Steven Gerrard. However, the lure of managing again in the Premier League has been too much for Rodgers to resist.

Previously in England, Rodgers learned his trade under the wing of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea before going onto great success with Swansea City. This earned him the huge opportunity to manage Liverpool FC and he came within an inch of ending the Reds’ league championship drought in 2013-2014.

Enforced retirement

Growing up as a supporter of Celtic and Sheffield Wednesday, Rodgers began his playing career as a defender at Ballymena United. He was signed by Reading at the age of 18 but he never made a first-team appearance and a genetic knee condition meant he was forced to stop playing at just 20. Reading kept him on the books as a youth coach and academy director for several years.

He decided to travel around Spain to study coaching methods and in 2004, was invited by new Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho to become the club’s new youth manager. He received the recommendation to join the Blues by Mourinho’s assistant, Steve Clarke – who is now also a Premiership manager rival of Rodgers’ up in Scotland with Kilmarnock.

In 2006, he earned the promotion to manage the reserve team and even after Mourinho’s departure, Avram Grant and Luiz Felipe Scolari kept him in that particular role. However, his first senior management opportunity was about to follow in Hertfordshire.

The Royal return doesn’t work out

In November 2008, Aidy Boothroyd left Watford with the club in relegation trouble in the Championship. They were 21st in the table and turned to rookie Rodgers to try and revive their fortunes.

His first experience of management at first-team level didn’t start well. The Hornets dropped into the relegation zone by the end of January and suffered a League Cup exit at the quarter-final stage to holders, Tottenham Hotspur. However, Rodgers stuck to his principles and he guided the club away from danger from February onwards. A run of five wins in six matches saw them finish a creditable 13th in the table.

A few weeks later, his former club Reading were looking for a new boss after Steve Coppell resigned following their failure to earn promotion via the play-offs. Although he initially distanced himself to the job, the lure of returning to Berkshire couldn’t be ignored and a compensation package was eventually agreed which saw Brendan leave Watford and take the vacancy at Reading.

The return didn’t work out. Reading managed just an average of one point per game and won just once at home during his tenure in the Championship. In December 2009, days after conceding a late equaliser at home to fellow strugglers, Scunthorpe United, he parted company with the club by mutual consent after just over six months in-charge. He managed only five victories in an unsuccessful stint at The Madejski Stadium.

Achieving history with Swansea

In July 2010, Rodgers returned to full-time management with Swansea City, succeeding Paolo Sousa. Prior to this appointment, it had looked like he would take up a first-team coaching position alongside Roberto Mancini at Manchester City but the lure of management on his own was simply too much. The Swans played some of the best football in the 2010-2011 Championship season and comfortably finished in the top six.

They made the play-off final and incredibly, it was Reading – the club who had ditched him when the going was tough who were the opponents in the battle to reach the holy grail of the Premier League. Swansea prevailed, winning 4-2 thanks to a Scott Sinclair hat-trick. Rodgers had achieved history by guiding Swansea to the Premier League, becoming the first Welsh club to play at this level.

The experts immediately tipped Swansea for an instant return to the Championship but despite failing to score in their first four matches, he stuck to his principles and prevailed. A strong home record which included victories over Arsenal, eventual champions Manchester City and Liverpool FC saw the Swans finish an exceptional 11th in their debut Premier League campaign. During the season, he signed a contract extension to remain as the club’s manager but when Liverpool FC sacked Kenny Dalglish days after the 2011-2012 season concluded, Rodgers name was immediately linked with the vacancy on Merseyside.

So close with Liverpool

Initially, it seemed like Wigan boss Roberto Martinez was the favourite with the bookmakers but the American owners of Liverpool, The Fenway Sports Group, had earmarked Rodgers as their preferred candidate. In June 2012, compensation was agreed with Swansea and the Northern Irishman was unveiled as Liverpool’s new manager.

His first campaign seemed to be slightly underwhelming. Liverpool finished seventh in the Premier League, below Merseyside rivals Everton and were eliminated from the FA Cup at the fourth round stage by League One strugglers, Oldham Athletic. However, he was building for the future and form improved in the second half of the campaign following the January arrivals of Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, whilst Luis Suarez was in sensational form and seemed to improve under the coaching of Rodgers.

In 2013-2014, Liverpool’s minimum target was to challenge for a top four finish. Without any distractions from a European campaign, the Reds could focus on this goal but they well and truly exceeded expectations. They won their first three matches to top the Premier League table and were still sitting top on Christmas Day of a thrilling title battle against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Back-to-back defeats to City and Chelsea dropped Liverpool to fifth by the turn of the year and he was fined £8,000 by the FA for making comments about Lee Mason’s performance during Liverpool’s 2-1 Boxing Day defeat to the Citizens. However, Liverpool remained firmly in the title race, helped by the emergence of Raheem Sterling as a prosperous talent, the goals from the ‘SAS’ partnership between Sturridge and Suarez and some stunning displays from Gerrard at the heart of the midfield.

An 11-game winning sequence, which included a highly-charged and poignant 3-2 victory over Manchester City in April, had the fans dreaming of a first league championship in 24 years. However, it was not to be. Two weeks later, Gerrard slipped against Chelsea, allowing Demba Ba through on-goal to put the Blues ahead. Mourinho’s side won 2-0 and handed the title advantage to Manchester City. A dramatic collapse at Selhurst Park a week later at Crystal Palace ended the dream. It was a missed opportunity but Liverpool had never come so close to landing the Premier League prize. They scored 101 goals and thrilled spectators throughout the country but conceding 50 goals were one of the detrimental factors to their title tilt.

In the summer of 2014, Suarez left for Barcelona and Sturridge spent much of the campaign on the sidelines thanks to injury. Rodgers spent big but failed to find an adequate replacement for the Uruguayan forward. Mario Balotelli was a gamble that backfired whilst Lazar Markovic proved to be an expensive flop and Dejan Lovren struggled with his £20 million price tag. Back in the UEFA Champions League, Liverpool struggled to make an impact, achieving just one victory from their six group games and exiting the competition at the first hurdle. Rodgers’ decision to rest his star names at The Bernabeu, including Gerrard, caused a rift between the boss and his captain and that turned out to be the catalyst for Gerrard’s summer departure to LA Galaxy.

Liverpool finished a distant sixth, losing 6-1 on the final day at Stoke City and lost in domestic cup semi-finals to Chelsea and Aston Villa respectively. The campaign had been a real disappointment but the owners continued to have faith in Rodgers and stuck by him in the summer, providing further funds to allow Christian Benteke, Roberto Firmino and Nathaniel Clyne to join the club.

By now, the patience of the supporters with Rodgers had run out. The frailties that had persisted through the title near-miss of 2013-2014 hadn’t been fixed nearly 18 months on. They limped past Carlisle United on penalties in the League Cup third round and couldn’t even beat Swiss part-timers FC Sion in the UEFA Europa League group stages. Speculation was rife that his time was up at Anfield.

Hours after a 1-1 draw with Merseyside neighbours Everton in the 225th Merseyside Derby, Rodgers was sacked by the owners – his fate had been sealed before the match after a run of just one win in nine matches in all competitions. He left with Liverpool sitting a distant 10th in the table.

It was a chastening end to what had been an initial promising start to his Liverpool reign.

Celtic joy

In May 2016, he was appointed as Celtic’s new manager on a 12-month rolling contract and immediately set to work on one of the clubs he supported as a boy. Celtic had been winning titles comfortably under the previous regime but had been failing to win the domestic cup competitions and made little impact in Europe either. The aim was to make the Bhoys stronger in European competition and to leave nothing on the table in terms of silverware for the other Scottish clubs.

In 2016-2017, he achieved history by guiding Celtic to a domestic treble for the fourth time in their history and ending the season unbeaten in all domestic competitions. They became the first Scottish top-flight side to complete an unbeaten league campaign since 1899, finishing with 106 points and a whopping 30 points clear of runners-up Aberdeen. The Dons were beaten in the Scottish Cup final and the Scottish League Cup final too as Celtic managed their 100th major trophy in their history.

They went 69 games unbeaten domestically before losing 4-0 to Hearts at Tynecastle in December 2017. Nevertheless, they once again cruised to the Premiership title and beat Motherwell in both domestic cup finals, becoming the first manager to win a ‘Double Treble’ in the history of Scottish football.

His success at Celtic wasn’t ignored and it meant his name was often linked with vacant Premier League jobs when they came up. In February 2019, he decided to cut his ties at Parkhead and return down south to the Premier League, taking over a Leicester City side sitting 12th in the table and having lost six on their last seven matches in all competitions. He definitely has a point to prove, both to Leicester supporters and the Premier League in general.

Shock Results: Queens Park Rangers 0-5 Swansea City (August 2012)

Goalscorers: Michu 8, 53, Nathan Dyer 63, 71, Scott Sinclair 81

Teams:

Queens Park Rangers: Robert Green, Anton Ferdinand, Clint Hill (Shaun Wright-Phillips 64), Fabio, Nedum Onuoha, Samba Diakite (Shaun Derry 86), Ji-Sung Park, Adel Taarabt, Junior Hoilett, Djibril Cisse (Andy Johnson 77), Jamie Mackie

Swansea City: Michel Vorm, Chico Flores, Ashley Williams, Angel Rangel, Neil Taylor, Leon Britton, Jonathan de Guzman (Kemy Agustien 70), Nathan Dyer (Scott Sinclair 77), Wayne Routledge, Danny Graham, Michu (Mark Gower 84)

Referee: Lee Probert, Attendance: 18,072

Queens Park Rangers had flirted dangerously with relegation in their first season back in the Premier League after a 16-year absence in 2011-2012. However, Mark Hughes was about to embark on his first full season in the dugout at Loftus Road and he’d invested in eight new arrivals, including the likes of Robert Green, Andy Johnson and Ji-Sung Park to help their prospects.

They faced Swansea City on the opening weekend of the 2012-2013 season. Swansea were under new management themselves. Following Brendan Rodgers’ departure for the Liverpool FC job, it was Michael Laudrup now guiding the Swans through their second Premier League season. They were about to leave a nasty sting in QPR’s season which they never recovered from.

The visitors made a dream start, leading inside of eight minutes. Nathan Dyer was tackled fairly on the edge of the penalty area by Clint Hill. The ball fell perfectly to Swansea new boy Michu and the Spaniard’s first-time effort seemed to catch Green out completely by surprise. The ball trickled past him to give the Welsh club the lead.

Although they trailed at half-time, QPR did create some decent openings. Michel Vorm saved well from point-blank range to deny Jamie Mackie and Junior Hoilett curled a left-handed effort just wide of the post. Hoilett was another new arrival having joined from relegated Blackburn Rovers. Swansea were still a big threat on the counter-attack though. Chico Flores smashed the crossbar with a header from a corner and Green had to be at full stretch to push away a Jonathan de Guzman free-kick.

Michu was a formidable threat all afternoon. Having been denied by the underside of the crossbar on the stroke of half-time, he made no mistake on 53 minutes. Ex-QPR player Wayne Routledge made a surging run through the heart of the QPR midfield and he picked out Michu, who produced an exquisite left-footed finish beyond Green’s despairing dive. By now, it did look like the points would be going back to south Wales but the way the home side crumbled would have sent alarm bells ringing throughout the ground.

Another counter-attacking goal led to Nathan Dyer making it 3-0. Michu robbed Fabio of possession. Routledge’s pass reached the path of Dyer who dispatched his strike with the minimum of fuss. Like Michu, Dyer would double his tally. He beat the offside trap on 71 minutes and once again, took his goal very well. There was time for substitute and Manchester City transfer target Scott Sinclair to complete the rout nine minutes from the end of a one-sided contest.

QPR failed to win a single game under Hughes in 2012-2013 and he was sacked in November after 12 winless league matches. Swansea won the League Cup and recorded an excellent 9th place finish in only their second Premier League campaign. They also won 4-1 against QPR in the reverse fixture.

Iconic Moments: Saints survive at Swansea’s expense (May 2018)

Going into the final week of the 2017-2018 Premier League season, the relegation battle was starting to take shape. The first team to be consigned to the drop were Stoke City, whose 10-year tenure in the top-flight ended after a 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace.

The big game was at The Liberty Stadium in the last midweek of the campaign as Swansea City hosted Southampton. A win was imperative for Southampton who had the daunting task of facing champions Manchester City on the final day of the season. As expected, it was a tight and tense contest with few goalscoring opportunities.

The matchwinning moment came in the 73rd minute. Charlie Austin was denied from a corner by Lukasz Fabianski but the ball fell perfectly to substitute Manolo Gabbiadini. The Italian made no mistake to send the away supporters into delirium. Southampton held on for a priceless victory.

A +10 goal difference advantage over Swansea effectively ensured their safety at the expense of the Welsh club, whilst this result ended West Bromwich Albion’s Premier League stint as they were relegated. Mark Hughes, who took over as Saints boss in mid-March, would have been hoping for a slightly easier campaign in his first full season on the south coast but already, it looks like the Saints could be set for another relegation battle this season.

Great Goals: Kevin De Bruyne – MANCHESTER CITY vs. Swansea City (April 2018)

If it hadn’t been for Mohamed Salah’s sensational heroics, there’s little doubt that Kevin De Bruyne would have swept all of the major individual awards in 2017-2018. De Bruyne was the outstanding figure in Manchester City’s record-breaking season and claimed more assists than any other player in the Premier League.

De Bruyne contributed too on the goal front and this was for many, his best and sweetest strike of the season. It came against Swansea City in the first home match for Manchester City since sealing the Premier League title.

Given time and space by a hesitant Swansea defence, De Bruyne decided to let fly from distance and his strike arrowed into the back of Lukasz Fabianski’s net. It was the pick of City’s goals that day. They ended up winning the match 5-0.

De Bruyne would go on to have an excellent World Cup finals too, helping Belgium to a third place finish; their best-ever effort at a World Cup.

Shock Results: Swansea City 1-0 Liverpool FC (January 2018)

Goalscorer: Alfie Mawson 40

Teams:

Swansea City: Lukasz Fabianski, Federico Fernandez, Alfie Mawson, Mike van der Hoorn, Kyle Naughton, Martin Olsson, Sam Clucas, Leroy Fer, Ki Sung-Yueng, Nathan Dyer (Tom Carroll 64), Jordan Ayew (Wilfried Bony 79)

Liverpool FC: Loris Karius, Joe Gomez, Andrew Robertson, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk, Emre Can, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Adam Lallana 68), Georginio Wijnaldum (Danny Ings 73), Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah

Referee: Neil Swarbrick, Attendance: 20,886

27 days earlier, Swansea City had shipped five goals at Anfield against Liverpool FC. The Swans were without a permanent manager, bottom of the table and looked completely devoid of any confidence. However, the Swans soon found a new boss and Carlos Carvalhal was about to give belief back to the Swansea supporters.

In the return match on a Monday Night Football at The Liberty Stadium, Swansea took a more cautious approach to this match. Carvalhal would later say: “They (Liverpool) are like a Formula 1 car. But at 4pm in London it will be difficult to speed, they would be a car like any other. We needed to make sure there was traffic; we could not let them have open roads to drive in.”

Both sides did have early opportunities. Jordan Ayew did have the ball in the back of the net but it was correctly ruled out as he had run the ball out of play. Meanwhile, Liverpool FC’s club-record signing was making his Premier League debut and Virgil van Dijk came close to scoring with a headed effort from a corner. His attempt whistled just wide of the far post.

The general feeling was if Swansea were going to strike, it would come from a set-piece. That theory was proved right five minutes before half-time. Liverpool didn’t clear their lines properly from a corner. Van Dijk was especially guilty as he didn’t get enough on his clearing header. After a ricochet off Federico Fernandez, Alfie Mawson took full advantage. He drove a shot into the bottom corner of the net. It was his first goal of the season.

Both Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah wasted good opportunities in the first half but Liverpool were nowhere near the level they’d demonstrated in their recent victory over the runaway league leaders Manchester City. Going into the match, Salah had scored 24 goals in all competitions, two more than the entire Swansea team. He had a quiet evening though. The Egyptian’s best moment was a free-kick in the second half that forced Lukasz Fabianski into a flying save.

Liverpool had scored 29 away goals in the league but they achieved none here despite controlling the second half. The closest they came was with virtually the last kick of the match. Van Dijk picked out Roberto Firmino but the Brazilian’s late header struck the post with Fabianski well-beaten.

Swansea held on for a sensational victory which took them within three points of safety. It was Carvalhal’s second win in four matches and he would guide them to impressive victories in quick succession over Arsenal, Burnley and West Ham United.

However, Swansea failed to win another game after the 4-1 victory over the Hammers in early March and they would be relegated at the end of the season. However, the fans can lookback at this victory over the Reds as one of the bright spots of a disappointing 2017-2018 season.

Premier League Rewind: 14th-16th January 2012

Results: Aston Villa 1-1 Everton, Blackburn Rovers 3-1 Fulham, Chelsea 1-0 Sunderland, Liverpool FC 0-0 Stoke City, Manchester United 3-0 Bolton Wanderers, Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Norwich City, Newcastle United 1-0 Queens Park Rangers, Swansea City 3-2 Arsenal, Wigan Athletic 0-1 Manchester City

Three teams seemed to be in the fight for the title race in the 2011-2012 Premier League season. The two Manchester clubs were covered by just three points after 20 matches, whilst Tottenham Hotspur had been on an incredible run of form, losing just once since late August to sit just three points shy of top spot.

The first signs though that the pace was going to catch up on Harry Redknapp and Spurs were evident on this January weekend when they dropped points at home to struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers. Steven Fletcher put the visitors infront after 22 minutes and despite having 28 shots on-goal and 68% possession, the hosts could only muster one goal through Luka Modric early in the second half. It was a missed opportunity for Tottenham.

Manchester United went to the top of the table for 48 hours after a convincing 3-0 success over Bolton Wanderers. It was a wonderful return to the first-team for Paul Scholes. Scholes retired from professional football in May 2011 but decided to reverse his decision in time for the FA Cup third round weekend. On his Premier League return against the Trotters, Scholes opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time. Second half goals from Danny Welbeck and Michael Carrick sealed the victory.

However, Manchester City responded on Monday evening with a hard-fought 1-0 victory away to Wigan Athletic. Edin Dzeko’s 22nd minute goal was the difference as Roberto Mancini’s side regained their three-point advantage at the top of the table.

Chelsea consolidated their position in the top four after a narrow 1-0 win over Sunderland. With new signing Gary Cahill watching on in the stands, Frank Lampard’s goal beat the Black Cats, who lost for just the second time since Martin O’Neill had succeeded Steve Bruce as manager in early December. The Blues were now four points clear of Arsenal who went down 3-2 to Swansea City. The Swans were enjoying a fantastic season under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers. This win lifted them into 10th position with Danny Graham scoring the winner. It meant Arsenal had lost back-to-back league games to start the 2012 calendar year.

Mark Hughes was back in the managerial dugout having succeeded Neil Warnock at Queens Park Rangers. It would be a losing start though for the Welshman as QPR lost 1-0 to Newcastle United, who moved into the top six and level on points with Arsenal. Leon Best scored the only goal of the game for the Magpies who were the surprise package of the season. QPR had lost six of their last seven matches and were now in the relegation zone.

They replaced Blackburn Rovers who still had the momentum from the fantastic New Years’ Eve victory at Manchester United. Despite having top goalscorer Yakubu sent off after just 23 minutes, Blackburn still had enough to defeat Fulham 3-1. However, just three points covered the bottom five in the table, so it was too close to call at this stage in the fight to survive.

What else happened in January 2012?

  • There are 32 confirmed deaths when passenger cruise ship Costa Concordia sinks off the coast of Italy.
  • Two men are found guilty of the murder of London teenager Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in April 1993. They are jailed for life.
  • Former CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Fred Goodwin loses his knighthood as a result of the near collapse of RBS four years earlier.
  • The Scottish Government announces that it plans to hold the referendum on Scottish independence in the autumn of 2014.
  • Legendary EastEnders character Pat Butcher, played by Pam St Clement, makes her final appearance in the BBC soap opera. Her character dies in a cancer storyline.
  • The FBI shutdown the Hong Kong-based file-sharing website, Megaupload.
  • Nick Hewer takes over as presenter of Channel 4 teatime show, Countdown.

Memorable Matches: Swansea City 3-4 Norwich City (December 2012)

Goalscorers: Steven Whittaker 16, Sebastien Bassong 40, Grant Holt 44, Michu 51, 90, Jonathan de Guzman 59, Robert Snodgrass 77

Teams:

Swansea City: Gerhard Tremmel, Chico Flores, Ben Davies, Angel Rangel, Ashley Williams, Ki Sung-Yueng, Jonathan de Guzman, Nathan Dyer, Wayne Routledge, Danny Graham (Itay Shechter 68), Michu

Norwich City: Mark Bunn, Sebastien Bassong, Javier Garrido, Russell Martin, Steven Whittaker (Leon Barnett 90), Jonny Howson, Bradley Johnson, Anthony Pilkington, Robert Snodgrass, Wes Hoolahan, Grant Holt (Steve Morison 82)

Referee: Howard Webb, Attendance: 20,294

Norwich City arrived in Wales on an excellent run which was among the best they were ever experiencing in the Premier League. They were eight matches undefeated and had enjoyed recent home victories over Arsenal and Manchester United. It wasn’t going to be an easy match to call though against Swansea City – who were full of confidence themselves after a famous win at The Emirates Stadium a week earlier.

In 2011-2012, the teams shared nine goals in their two matches so a 0-0 was very unlikely and that was guaranteed as early as the 16th minute. Norwich had started well and Jonny Howson hit the post before they took the lead. The excellent Robert Snodgrass started the move with a lovely back heel. This played through the Scottish full-back Steven Whittaker. The former Rangers defender carried on his run into the box and drove a shot past Gerhard Tremmel. It was his first goal for the club but Tremmel was beaten at his near post and would have to be disappointed to have left the gap for Whittaker to aim at.

Danny Graham was denied by the woodwork soon afterwards but the Canaries took a firm grip on the game going into the dressing rooms for half-time. Grant Holt turned provider with a deep cross and it was met by Sebastien Bassong. The Frenchman punished Tremmel, who once again left too much space at his near post. He was in a rich vein of form and now had three goals in his last four matches. Four minutes after going 2-0 up, Chris Hughton’s side increased their advantage further. Holt escaped some slack marking to meet a Snodgrass free-kick and power a trademark header into the net.

Any hope of a Swansea comeback could have been snuffed out in the opening moments of the second half. Snodgrass picked out Bradley Johnson and on the volley, the midfielder was desperately unlucky to see his effort crash off the crossbar. The Swans benefited from this extremely good fortune to reduce the arrears. Michu was picked out by Ben Davies and struck from close-range in the 51st minute to convert his 11th Premier League goal of the season. Faint hope turned into genuine belief for Michael Laudrup and his men when Jonathan de Guzman scored his second of the season just before the hour mark. Nathan Dyer’s cross was only partially cleared and Dutchman de Guzman scored on the half-volley.

It was an entertaining battle but Swansea simply couldn’t cope with Snodgrass who was in formidable form all afternoon. A cracking free-kick with 13 minutes remaining restored a two-goal cushion and virtually ensured that all three points would be going back to Norfolk. There was just about enough time for the Premier League’s top goalscorer, Michu to grab his second of the afternoon, converting de Guzman’s cross. However, Swansea had given themselves too much to do and came away on the day empty-handed. However, they would finish two places ahead of Norwich in the final standings.

The Clubs: Swansea City

All data correct upto 3rd April 2018

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
258 82 64 112 303 369 -66 310 7

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Wayne Routledge 196
Ashley Williams 181
Angel Rangel 168
Nathan Dyer 158
Leon Britton 148
Lukasz Fabianski 142
Ki Sung-Yeung 133
Neil Taylor 131
Gylfi Sigurdsson 124
Federico Fernandez 112

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Gylfi Sigurdsson 34
Wilfried Bony 27
Michu 20
Nathan Dyer 17
Wayne Routledge 16
Danny Graham 15
Fernando Llorente 15
Bafetimbi Gomis 13
Andre Ayew 12
Ki Sung-Yeung 12

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Queens Park Rangers 0-5 Swansea City 18th August 2012 2012-2013
Swansea City 4-0 Sunderland 19th October 2013 2013-2014
Swansea City 4-1 Queens Park Rangers 9th February 2013 2012-2013
Swansea City 4-1 Aston Villa 26th April 2014 2013-2014
West Ham United 1-4 Swansea City 7th May 2016 2015-2016
Swansea City 4-1 West Ham United 3rd March 2018 2017-2018
Swansea City 3-0 West Bromwich Albion 17th September 2011 2011-2012
Fulham 0-3 Swansea City 17th March 2012 2011-2012
Swansea City 3-0 Blackburn Rovers 14th April 2012 2011-2012
Swansea City 3-0 West Ham United 25th August 2012 2012-2013

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Liverpool FC 5-0 Swansea City 17th February 2013 2012-2013
Swansea City 0-5 Chelsea 17th January 2015 2014-2015
Tottenham Hotspur 5-0 Swansea City 3rd December 2016 2016-2017
Liverpool FC 5-0 Swansea City 26th December 2017 2017-2018
Manchester City 4-0 Swansea City 15th August 2011 2011-2012
Leicester City 4-0 Swansea City 24th April 2016 2015-2016
Swansea City 0-4 Arsenal 14th January 2017 2016-2017
Swansea City 0-4 Manchester United 19th August 2017 2017-2018
Swansea City 0-4 Manchester City 13th December 2017 2017-2018
Chelsea 4-1 Swansea City 24th September 2011 2011-2012

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Brendan Rodgers 1 1st June 2012
Michael Laudrup 2 4th February 2014
Garry Monk 3 9th December 2015
Francesco Guidolin 2 3rd October 2016
Bob Bradley 1 27th December 2016
Paul Clement 2 20th December 2017
Carlos Carvalhal 1  

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Swansea City 0-0 Southampton 20th April 2013 22,561 2012-2013
Swansea City 3-1 Liverpool FC 1st May 2016 20,972 2015-2016
Swansea City 1-0 Chelsea 9th April 2016 20,966 2015-2016
Swansea City 1-3 Manchester United 6th November 2016 20,938 2016-2017
Swansea City 0-3 Arsenal 31st October 2015 20,937 2015-2016
Swansea City 1-1 Manchester City 15th May 2016 20,934 2015-2016
Swansea City 1-0 Norwich City 5th March 2016 20,929 2015-2016
Swansea City 0-1 Southampton 13th February 2016 20,890 2015-2016
Swansea City 2-1 West Bromwich Albion 21st May 2017 20,889 2016-2017
Swansea City 1-0 Liverpool FC 22nd January 2018 20,886 2017-2018

 

Intro

Swansea City became the first Welsh club to play in the Premier League when Brendan Rodgers guided them into the top-flight in 2011. The Swans have been a fixture in the Premier League ever since and achieved a top half finish in 2012-2013 and 2014-2015 under the guidance of Michael Laudrup and Garry Monk. American investment has led to some chaotic moments in the last couple of seasons but under Carlos Carvalhal, the south Wales club look set to extend their Premier League stay to an eighth successive campaign.

 

2011-2012

Swansea City became the first Welsh club to play in the Premier League and found the going tough initially; failing to score or win any of their first four matches. However, a 3-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion in September was the galvanising result that lifted their season. Brendan Rodgers’ side played expansive, attacking football throughout the season using a 4-3-3 formation. Arsenal, Liverpool FC and champions Manchester City were among the sides beaten at The Liberty Stadium.

The Swans also scored the fastest goal of the season, as Andrea Orlandi netted after just 24 seconds in a fixture against Wolverhampton Wanderers which ended in a 4-4 draw. Swansea were never under any serious relegation threat and finished a tremendous 11th in their debut Premier League season. However, they lost their manager in the summer as Rodgers left to fill the vacancy at Liverpool.

 

2012-2013

It was another successful season for Swansea who had a new manager with Michael Laudrup succeeding the departing Rodgers. The club celebrated its centenary, and to mark the occasion released a new crest. In keeping with the centenary theme, the home kit for the season used the colours white and gold, rather than the more traditional white and black.

There was trophy success in the League Cup and a top 10 finish in the Premier League, despite with one fewer point than they amassed in 2011-2012. With 18 goals, new summer acquisition Michu was one of the surprises of the season and the best results came on the road. A 5-0 opening day success at Loftus Road over Queens Park Rangers remains Swansea’s biggest Premier League victory, whilst two Michu goals sank Arsenal at The Emirates Stadium in early December.

 

2013-2014

Swansea broke their transfer record in the summer, paying Vitesse Arnhem £12 million for the services of Ivorian forward Wilfried Bony. Bony was the star turn in a frustrating third campaign at this level for the Swansea faithful. He scored 16 Premier League goals which ultimately kept the team away from relegation trouble.

That didn’t look so secure in early February and after a 2-0 loss at West Ham which was their sixth Premier League reverse in eight games; owner Huw Jenkins sacked Michael Laudrup with the club just two points above the drop zone. Former skipper Garry Monk took over on an interim basis and was given the job permanently in May after securing safety with the Swans ultimately finishing 12th.

This was the only season the Welsh Derby took place in the Premier League. Swansea won 3-0 in February in Monk’s first game in-charge to make amends for the 1-0 loss they suffered to Cardiff City in November.

 

2014-2015

2014-2015 remains Swansea’s best season, both in terms of finishing position and points tally. They finished in eighth position, amassing 56 points and they never dropped outside of the top 10 throughout the season. In his first full season as a manager, Garry Monk was a revelation as his side recorded some amazing results.

This included league doubles over both Arsenal and Manchester United, whilst Bony scored nine further Premier League goals before he moved to Manchester City in the January transfer window. There was a heavy 5-0 loss at home to champions Chelsea in January but this was a blot in an impressive campaign which saw cracking performances from the likes of Jonjo Shelvey, Lukasz Fabianski and returnee Gylfi Sigurdsson.

 

2015-2016

Swansea went through the first month of the 2015-2016 Premier League campaign undefeated with two wins and two draws. Among those results was an opening day draw at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea and a third successive victory over Manchester United.

However, it all started to unravel from September onwards. A run of one victory in 11 games followed which saw Swansea drop from fourth to 15th in the table. After a lifeless display at home to Leicester City which ended in a 3-0 defeat, the club made the difficult decision to sack Monk. He was replaced a month later by the former Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin. He guided Swansea away from danger and they finished 12th, with late season victories at home to Chelsea and Liverpool FC among the highlights.

 

2016-2017

This was a chaotic season for Swansea City which nearly cost them their Premier League status. Guidolin started the campaign as manager but was sacked in early October after a 2-1 loss to Liverpool FC. Swansea had just four points on the board when he was dismissed. American boss Bob Bradley succeeded him but his reign was even worse and he was axed after a Boxing Day beating at home to West Ham United.

Swansea went into 2017 bottom of the Premier League and favourites to be relegated. Paul Clement, a former no.2 to Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea, was chosen as the man to lead them away from danger. Four wins in his first six games in-charge showed a rapid improvement and gave them a fighting chance. A run of five defeats in six games in March and early April looked set to cost the club but a 1-0 victory in early May over Everton, coupled with Hull’s shocking home loss to Sunderland put their fate in their own hands.

A week later, a 2-0 success away at Sunderland ensured safety when Hull were beaten 4-0 by Crystal Palace 24 hours later. Swansea finished in 15th place, helped by 15 league goals from new signing Fernando Llorente and some more sizzling displays from the influential Sigurdsson.

 

2017-2018

Despite the return of Bony and the excitement over the loan arrival of Renato Sanches from Bayern Munich, there was concern around The Liberty Stadium as Sigurdsson was sold to Everton and Llorente joined Tottenham Hotspur on transfer deadline day. Those fears looked to be fully warranted as Swansea won just two of their opening 15 matches.

Clement was sacked five days before Christmas following a 3-1 loss to Everton and Swansea spent Christmas Day bottom of the Premier League table. Former Sheffield Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal came in as Clement’s successor and has inspired the club away from danger. Swansea go into the final six matches of the season with Premier League safety firmly in their own hands.

Premier League Rewind: 18th-20th August 2012

Results: Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland, Fulham 5-0 Norwich City, Queens Park Rangers 0-5 Swansea City, Reading 1-1 Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion 3-0 Liverpool FC, West Ham United 1-0 Aston Villa, Newcastle United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur, Wigan Athletic 0-2 Chelsea, Manchester City 3-2 Southampton, Everton 1-0 Manchester United

After a summer of amazing sport and many golden moments at the London Olympics, the Premier League season of 2012-2013 was ready for kick-off. 27 goals were scored across the 10 matches on a weekend which produced some one-sided matches and a real scare for the reigning champions.

The biggest story of the opening weekend would come in the final match which was a Monday Night Football showdown between Everton and Manchester United. Still feeling sore from the previous season’s last-gasp title defeat to Manchester City, Sir Alex Ferguson had vowed his team would never get beaten on goal difference again. However, they would be trailing their city rivals by three points after this defeat at Goodison.

Marouane Fellaini’s header in the second half gave traditional slow starters Everton a fantastic 1-0 victory. Manchester United had lost their first game of the Premier League season for the first time since 2004. Fellaini was in fantastic form and his goal was richly deserved for a committed and dominant display.

24 hours earlier, the reigning champions began their title defence in slightly unconvincing fashion. They needed a late goal from Samir Nasri to defeat plucky Southampton 3-2. The Saints were back in the top-flight after an absence of seven years and they had enjoyed back-to-back promotions. They showed no fear at The Etihad Stadium and this approach would work well for them throughout the campaign.

Fellow Premier League returnees Reading and West Ham United enjoyed undefeated openings. Reading needed a 90th minute penalty from Adam Le Fondre to rescue a 1-1 draw at home to Stoke City, whilst Kevin Nolan scored the only goal at Upton Park to guide West Ham to a 1-0 win against Aston Villa. This meant it was a losing start for new Villa manager Paul Lambert.

Lambert had left Norwich City in the summer for the job in the Second City and his predecessor, Chris Hughton, experienced a torrid start away at Fulham. Craven Cottage has never been a lucky ground for the Canaries. They experienced relegation here in 2005 from the top-flight after a 6-0 loss. This time, the margin was only slightly worse, going down 5-0. Croat Mladen Petric scored two of the Fulham goals.

It wasn’t a good beginning to the Brendan Rodgers reign either at Liverpool FC. Rodgers witnessed his side lose 3-0 at The Hawthorns to West Bromwich Albion and the margin could have been greater, if Shane Long didn’t have a weak spot-kick saved by Pepe Reina. One of West Brom’s goalscorers was Romelu Lukaku. It was his first-ever Premier League goal and the Belgian, on-loan from Chelsea was about to embark on a hugely successful season in the Midlands. To compound Liverpool’s woes, Daniel Agger was sent off.

However, the result of the weekend came at Loftus Road. Having invested heavily in his playing squad in the summer, Mark Hughes was expecting big things in his first full campaign in the Queens Park Rangers hotseat. So, a 5-0 battering at home by Michael Laudrup’s exciting Swansea City side already saw some alarming signs for the season ahead. Both Michu and Nathan Dyer helped themselves to two goals each and Scott Sinclair struck too. It would be his final goal for Swansea, as he was set to move to Manchester City before the close of the transfer window.

Michu would have an outstanding season at Swansea but Soccer Saturday pundit Paul Merson had a few problems confusing him with fellow Spanish player Chico Flores!

What else happened in August 2012?

  • The London Olympics conclude with Team GB finishing in a fabulous third in the medals table, winning 65 medals in total, 29 of those being gold. This includes six golds on “Super Saturday.”
  • The InterCity West Coast franchise is won by the UK’s largest rail operator, First Group. However, current owner Virgin Trains keeps the franchise after the discovery of irregularities in the franchise letting process.
  • Mark Thompson, who is leaving his post as Director-General of the BBC, is appointed CEO of The New York Times.
  • Singer and variety performer Max Bygraves dies aged 89.
  • Rory McIlroy wins the USPGA Championship at Kiawah Island.
  • Frenchman Romain Grosjean becomes the first driver since 1994 to be banned from a Formula One race after triggering a first-corner pile-up at the Belgian Grand Prix. Four drivers are eliminated in the shunt, including Britain’s Lewis Hamilton and championship leader Fernando Alonso.
  • The Mars Science Laboratory mission’s rover, ‘Curiosity,’ successfully lands on the planet.

Premier League Files: Michu

Premier League Career: Swansea City (2012-2014)

He arrived quietly, became one of Swansea’s most revered players and then left almost as silently as he arrived. Michu will sadly go down as a one-season wonder in the Premier League. He was sensational in 2012-2013, scoring 22 goals in all competitions during his first season in south Wales and being linked with clubs like Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal. He also won one international cap for Spain.

Unfortunately, injury struggles hindered his progress afterwards and in 2017, he decided to call time on his career at the age of just 31. Born in Oviedo, Michu started his career with his hometown club, playing 100 times from 2003 to 2007. He had a good goalscoring pedigree even as an attacking midfielder in Spain and that reputation continued during stints with Celta Vigo and Rayo Vallecano. He even scored twice in the Bernabeu with the latter club, although this did come in a 6-2 loss to Real Madrid.

Michu joined Swansea in July 2012, costing the club £2 million. He was seen as a replacement for the Tottenham-bound Gylfi Sigurdsson, playing in just behind the main striker. He made an electrifying start to Premier League life, netting twice on his debut in Swansea’s excellent 5-0 away win on the opening weekend of the season at Queens Park Rangers. Goals followed in home matches with West Ham United and Sunderland. He didn’t stop scoring for the majority of the season, also netting in Swansea’s 5-0 League Cup victory against League One outfit Bradford City. In total, he scored 18 Premier League goals and 22 in all competitions and swept the awards’ board with both fans and his fellow teammates.

There were high expectations going into the 2013-2014 season and there were early season strikes to save a point at home to Liverpool FC and then, opening the scoring in a 2-0 away triumph at Crystal Palace. However, this turned out to be his last goal in the Premier League. He was loaned to Napoli for the following season but only appeared six times for the Italian giants due to injury and was eventually released by Swansea in November 2015. After one final year back at Real Oviedo, he hung up his playing boots in July 2017, with recurring ankle injuries to blame for his fall from grace. He has since stated he would like to remain in football in a coaching capacity.