It Was Pretty Bad But A Win's a Win
26th November 2016
Well, how do you put that game into words!? A nine-goal thriller that saw Bob Bradley win his first match at Swansea City, but it looked like we had thrown away a 3-1 lead when Palace went 4-3 up in a crazy last few minutes at the Liberty Stadium.
Whilst thousands of Swans fans got up and left to the exits when Benteke put Pardew`s side 4-3 up, those remaining were rewarded for a thrilling finish. Wickham`s lengthy injury meant that there were 7 injury time minutes, so many of those that left missed the final 13 minutes, and two Fernandez Llorente goals that got us a priceless three points, moving up to within 2 points of safety.
Llorente made a huge difference when he came on midway through the second half. For the first time, Bob Bradley named an unchanged side but many fans weren`t too happy to only see strikers named amongst the substitutions as Sigurdsson remained in his false nine role.
Zaha opened the scoring for the visitors within 20 minutes, taking full advantage of some shocking Swansea defending inside the box. He found a clear shooting chance in front of goal far too easily, and that was just the start of some of the worst defending you`ll see - from both sides.
Gylfi Sigurdsson, like Fernando Llorente, played a key role in our first home win of the season. Despite frustrations that the wall wasn`t put back the full 10 yards due to Kevin Friend`s incompetence, Gylfi was still able to fire a superb strike into the top corner, leaving Welsh goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey routed to the spot.
Both sides were showing clear signs as to why they were struggling at the foot of the table. Neither were able to settle into a passing rhythm as they both competed for what was a crucial game. Palace would have been in 12th position had they held on at 4-3, whilst the Swans would be 5 points adrift and joint bottom. Instead, Llorente`s late brace and 5-4 win means the two teams are just two points apart.
The second half saw an improvement from the hosts as they started to settle into the game and dominated most of the possession, as Palace offered very little. Having said that, there was an obvious need to bring a striker on to give the visitor`s defence something to think about inside the box.
As Sigurdsson stepped up ready to take a corner, Llorente came on to replace Wayne Routledge and he offered a far bigger presence in situations like this. Our 'false nine` and central attacker was taking set pieces which meant that there was no one else to really cause a threat inside the box.
Leroy Fer offers a good aerial threat but it proved how he could become more of a threat when you add Llorente in amongst them inside the box.
The two linked up to put us in front for the first time from Sigurdsson`s corner. Llorente`s powerful header was heading into the far bottom corner before being blocked on the line, but Fer reacted well to net from close range. Palace`s defending was shockingly poor, and looked like the sort of defending we`ve been doing at set pieces for some time now.
2-1 became 3-1 two minutes later, and it was Fer again, and another Sigurdsson set piece. This time a free kick whipped in from the right, flicked on by Amat and Fer was at the far post to double our lead.
At 3-1, it looked like we finally might win a game at home this season. A 2-goal lead and we were pretty comfortable as Palace really weren`t offering anything in front of Fabianski`s goal. But within 16 minutes of Fer`s second goal, we were 4-3 behind.
It seemed like, anything Palace could do, we could do - worse - and that was defending set pieces. Cabaye`s corner wasn`t dealt with, Fabianski couldn`t deal with the ball and Tomkins was able to poke the ball in from 2 yards.
The third goal was an unfortunate stroke of bad luck, a cross was sent in that Jack Cork got a head to, but it flicked off the top of it, over Fabianski`s head and into the net.
But there were no excuses for what followed. A 3-1 lead was soon completely thrown away when Benteke made it 4-3 to Palace with 6 minutes of normal play remaining.
Another Cabaye corner, again from the same side, Palace`s right, and it was sent in slowly, hardly whipped in at pace to cause too many problems. We didn`t win the first header, and in similar circumstances, the ball fell inside the 6-yard area and Benteke was quickest to stab the ball in.
How many times have we conceded goals from set pieces where we haven`t dealt with either the first or second ball? Too many to count this season and last. At 4-3 down, thousands of Swans fans left in disgust, not knowing that incredibly, the Swans would somehow show excellent character to fire in 2 more goals to claim three unlikely points.
Llorente`s first, to make it 4-4, saw the move start down the left with Montero. The Spaniard headed his goal goalwards before the ball came back to Sigurdsson to volley back where it came from, Llorente stuck a leg to direct the ball past Hennessey. When it looked like we had got a point, we got ourselves another two just 2 minutes later and yet again, it was another set piece.
Sigurdsson sent in a long, direct ball into the 6-yard area, it wasn`t dealt with and Llorente was able to poke the ball home from close range. So many close range goals due to awful defending from set pieces was the theme of the day.
You could discuss just how poor the two defences were all day long, not to mention how you could question Bradley`s decision making and ability to manage a game, but it`s three points that could, and really should change our season. It might have been some of the worst defending you`ll see from us, but the character right at the end to fight on and score to goals when we looked down and out at 4-3 has to count for something.
The confidence and belief the players must have got from the way they won that game at the end has to inspire them going into the next few games now - all completely winnable and Spurs apart - are all against bottom half sides.