The FourFourTwo Preview: Swansea vs Burnley
Underdogs turned top dogs after Sigurdsson's second coming.
- Man Utd 1-2 Swansea (Prem)
- Swansea 0-3 Villarreal (F)
- Reading 1-3 Swansea (F)
- Bournemouth 3-1 Swansea (F)
- Exeter 0-2 Swansea (F)
- Burnley 1-3 Chelsea (Prem)
- Burnley 3-1 Hellas Verona (F)
- Burnley 2-2 Celta Vigo (F)
- Blackpool 0-1 Burnley (F)
- Preston 2-1 Burnley (F)
Winning at Old Trafford may no longer carry quite the same kudos as this time 12 months ago. But for a Swansea side who had never done it before in the league and were tipped for a season of struggle having won just five of 17 matches under manager Garry Monk, last Saturday’s 2-1 success shouldn't be sniffed at.
City ended last season winning their final two away games of the campaign in the North East at Newcastle and Sunderland.
And they carried on where they left off, this time in the North West, as Ki Sung-Yueng, returning from a loan spell at Sunderland and Gylfi Sigurdsson, back after two years at Tottenham, ensured it would be no happy home debut for Louis van Gaal.
Monk had told his players to ‘focus purely on themselves’ and not their illustrious opponents ahead of their surprise opening-day result, and the message is unlikely to change for a match they will now be expected to take all three points from.
Newly promoted Burnley, for a few fleeting minutes, had title favourites Chelsea in a flux thanks to Scott Arfield’s stunner. But all the goal did was anger the beast; the Blues hitting back with three first-half efforts of their own, the second leaving the watching world cooing as Andre Schurrle finished off a scintillating 25-pass move.
Yet the Clarets came away from Turf Moor with plenty of plus points from their second-half endeavours, even if it was against opponent who were cruising along in first gear.
“I thought we did OK... Chelsea showed their quality and their rotation in the middle of the park in particular was different class,” scorer Arfield said afterwards. “There is no disappointment regardless of this result, we're on to the next game now. With the fans behind us anything can happen. I think they'll have gone home happy with what they've seen in the second half and the high pressing game we like to play.”
Having previously met in the second, third and fourth tiers of English football, this will be the first top-flight tussle, with the Clarets’ only win in their last seven visits to Wales a 4-2 victory in December 1995.
Monk will have Federico Fernandez at his disposal for the first time after the defender's arrival from Napoli. But Jonathan de Guzman definitey won't be returning to the Liberty Stadium after deciding to join Michu at Stadio San Paolo. Knee knack continues to sideline Leon Britton, Marvin Emnes and Jay Fulton.
Sam Vokes is targeting a return from anterior cruciate ligament damage “before Christmas”. Youngster Cameron Dummigan is also out with a thigh problem.
Player to watch: Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea)
It was if the Iceland international hadn’t been away as he steered home Swansea’s winner on his second debut for the club last weekend. The 24-year-old netted seven times in the space of 11 appearances in 2012 – on loan from Hoffenheim – before joining Spurs for £6.8 million that summer.
“He can be massive for us this season,” skipper Ashley Williams told the South Wales Evening Post. “He has got that little bit of quality we need to go forward. He was a bit of squad player at Spurs, but he is going to be very important for us. He is a very clever player. He gives us that bit of quality with a set-piece or a finish that we might have missed. He knows how much we like him here and hopefully he will have a big impact.”
While Sigurdsson grabbed the headlines at Old Trafford, netting one goal and setting up the other, he was ably supported by the central midfield duo behind him. Nobody made more ball recoveries than Jonjo Shelvey (9) while Swansea’s other scorer, Ki, topped the chart for interceptions (5).
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Burnley 2-1 Swans (Ch, Apr 11)
- Swans 1-0 Burnley (Ch, Aug 10)
- Burnley 0-2 Swans (Ch, Jan 09)
- Swans 1-1 Burnley (Ch, Sep 08)
- Swans 2-4 Burnley (Div 2, Dec 95)
Having secured their second Old Trafford triumph of 2014 (the other in the FA Cup back in January), Monk has challenged his players to prove this latest upset was no fluke by improving their performance levels against Burnley.
“We can get better, we can improve," he said. "We can be sharper in certain areas, but the whole key to it all was us coming together as a group, working for each other and I think everyone saw that. We've worked very hard in pre-season, putting structures in place where we could adapt to different situations and it was very pleasing we did that for most of the game and limit Manchester United to very few chances."
Sean Dyche hasn't read too much into Monday's result against the division’s big hitters and is confident the Clarets can use the lessons learned to their advantage for games they can realistically look to take points from.
“We kept trying to play and will try to keep the inner quality, and inner belief,” he said. “We will learn from a game against Chelsea, it's the top of the market and they will be a force this season.”
Facts and figures
- Only 1 of Gylfi Sigurdsson's 8 Premier League goals for Swansea has come at home.
- Swansea conceded the most fouls on the opening weekend (20), Burnley the fewest (6).
- Swansea are looking to win 3 Premier League games in a row for the first time since August 2012.
More FFT Stats Zone facts
An air of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show’ isn't enough to stop another Swansea win. 2-0.