That's What The Fans Have Been Crying Out For
22nd January 2018
Swansea City produced what can only be described as an incredible and unbelievable result at the Liberty Stadium on Monday night as Alfie Mawson's strike following a corner was enough to take all three points against a Liverpool side that ended Manchester City's chances of going unbeaten with a memorable 4-3 win an Anfield only last weekend.
Not only was the win against such a strong and talented Liverpool, who were unbeaten in 18 games, but the fact that we kept a clean sheet against such a high scoring side.
Swansea City fans had been crying out for that sort of performance. One that was full of fighting spirit, determination, belief, and you can even include confidence in there as well - something we had been severely lacking in before Carlos Carvalhal's arrival.
If we are going down this season, we at least didn't want to go down without a fight, and finally we've got that back, and in abundance it seems after this performance. That desire and belief is back. Things had gone terribly stale under Paul Clement and it was obviously clear that a change was needed. 6 games, 4 in the League and only 1 defeat is an impressive start for Carlos Carvalhal. The new head coach was hopeful of springing a surprise against Liverpool and his side definitely did that.
He has somehow restored the players' confidence to some degree. And like the former West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic said on Sky Sports' Monday Night football coverage, the Swans were impressive in the first half - a side that surprised him for looking 'confident' considering they are 'rock-bottom' of the Premier League.
Carvalhal named a defensive 3-5-2 formation, but one that acted as a 5-4-1 for long periods of the game, as Ayew fed off scraps up top on his own, with Dyer dropping deep in wide-right defensive support. At the back, Kyle Naughton was restored following his suspension, and Alfie Mawson produced - by far - his best performance of the season. He read everything that came his way, made some superb blocks, scored the winner and followed that up by a game-winning block right at the death to deny substitute Lallana a Liverpool equaliser.
In front of the back five, Leroy Fer was back in a League starting eleven, with Carroll dropped to the bench. Clucas, who also produced his best performance of the season along with Fer, was joined by Ki - and yes he joins the 'best performance of the season' club as well. The South Korean showed his qualities, and qualities that he doesn't show enough of. 97% passing accuracy, just the one misplaced pass, and he did so whilst also pinging some long diagonals over for the likes of Naughton and Dyer. He also did a superb job along with Fer and Clucas, a superb trio who worked hard to manage the space just outside of the penalty area, intercepting passes through this area and distributing the ball well at times despite Liverpool's excellent counter-pressing.
Liverpool were mostly wasteful with their chances. Players were all too often happy to shoot on sight from distances, leaving team-mates waiting inside the box frustrated throughout as the ball flew well wide of the target.
Fabianski wasn't being tested enough in the first half, and we punished the visitors just 5 minutes before the break. Liverpool's reputation for struggling to defend set pieces was on display once again, and even with their new, big signing van Dijk they made hard work of clearing the cross. A group of Liverpool players went up all trying to win the aerial ball, van Dijk got a touch but it only fell down to Fernandez, who was able to help the ball into Mawson's path to swivel and pick out the bottom corner.
Queue mad celebrations that resulted in captain Fernandez getting a bloody nose!
50 long, painful minutes followed and as the minutes passed, Liverpool continued to dominated and their chances were becoming more clear cut and closer to becoming goals. So close in fact that somehow Lallana couldn't pick out the net from inside the 6-yard box after Firmino's headed effort came back off the post.
But Swansea's defence held firm and were well worthy of their crucial clean sheet. Liverpool struggled to find different ways of finding the gaps in the final third, as the Swans worked hard off the ball, particularly in the immediate periods after losing possession.
A number of players have quickly benefitted from Carvalhal's arrival. Ayew has had a new lease of life. His performance away at Liverpool was the complete and utter opposite from this one. The effort has always been there in fairness, but he's starting to show an end product to go with it. Alfie Mawson is another, so too is Olsson who has the license and freedom again to offer attacking width down the left. Clucas too and it'll be interesting to see if Fer is used more having been low down in the pecking order in the League in the games so far under the new boss.
The three points is absolutely massive. We went 6 points adrift of safety after the weekend's games and we needed to cut that back to three. We might still be bottom, but tonight's win is priceless for us and will restore some confidence, amongst the players as well as the fans. It's not over yet!