Jonathan De Guzman Has Transformed The Swansea Midfield For The Better

The Canada-born youngster arrived at the Liberty Stadium over the summer and has been a revelation in the Swansea midfield, proving there is life after Joe Allen.
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The Canada-born youngster arrived at the Liberty Stadium over the summer and has been a revelation in the Swansea midfield, proving there is life after Joe Allen.

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The familiar outcome be felled the Liberty stadium yesterday as Swansea City and Stoke City once again clashed in the Premier League. Since the Swans returned to the top flight in the 2011-12 season, it has been a developing pattern in this fixture that the home team has taken the spoils, and once again this was the case with the Swans running out 3-1 victors.

Pre-match was a sombre affair, with the home team wearing black armbands in memory of former player Geoff Thomas who sadly passed away this week, and the minutes applause being respected by all in attendance at the Liberty.

This fixture is the classic clash of styles. Swansea having been likened to Barcelona on times whilst Stoke have garnered similarity to a a rugby team. But it's Swansea's Michael Laudrup who has spoken of his respect for Stoke, and even using the two clubs names in the same sentence - something which not many have done.

“I respect Stoke for the way the play as much as I respect Barcelona. You have to adapt to the players you have and the style of football you want to play".

Stoke have very much done what Swansea are aiming to do, by establishing themselves as a solid mid-table Premier League outfit. Though the fans will be quick to point out it's by very contrasting methods.

Laudrup rotated his starting XI from the team that started at Arsenal in the FA cup defeat midweek, making a massive eight changes. Again there was a sense of him having one eye on the 2nd leg of the Capital One Semi final against Chelsea this coming week. Laudrup hasn't selected the same starting 11 for consecutive games dating back as far as November 10th.

Rumoured Swansea target Kenwyne Jones had to settle for a place on the bench for Stoke, with Peter Crouch - the two goal hero in the reverse fixture earlier in the season - starting up front for Pulis' side.

The general consensus of Swans fans before the kick off was that the selection of Israeli international Itae Schechter was a strange one, given his last goal came in October 2011 for Kaiserslautern. Laudrup cleared this up after the game, that it was the rumoured to be the departing Danny Graham that was due to start, though he had a virus Friday night and was deemed only fit enough to play no more than a substitutes role.

The Swans back on their own patch after three tough games on the road, started to play the style of football that they are renown for, whilst the travelling Stoke contingent showed their displeasure of seeing the ball clinging to the playing surface with chants of 'boring', as Swansea dominated the early spell.

The first half was certainly not a classic, with the Swans probing, and Stoke providing stubborn, resilient opposition - the type of performance that the Swans have used themselves on recent trips to London and Merseyside.

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The game came to life in the second half with a much needed early goal, and it was for the home team, from an unlikely source. Left-back Ben Davies scoring a goal he won't forget anytime soon - not only a very well worked goal but also his first in professional football. As the chorus of '1-0 to the football team' rang out around the Liberty the Swans continued to display the slick passing style that is normally par for the course when they take the field. The excellent Jonathan De Guzman taking a pivotal role in all things positive for the team in white.

And it was De Guzman who showed what he's threatened to do all season by doubling the Swans lead with a sublime freekick from 22 yards out. The quick double salvo in eight minutes looked to have the game done and dusted and another three points heading to South Wales.

Swansea being at the bottom of the table for goals scored from set pieces with 6% whereas the visitors sit at the opposite end of the table with 57% going someway to try to rectify this particular stat.

Pulis in an attempt to turn the tide sent on Kenwyne jones and Cameron Jerome and it was the latter who had the contender for miss of the season - clearing the Swansea bar from a yard out.

Laudrup handed Roland Lamah his debut from the bench, the Belgian international having joined from Osasuna on an 18month loan deal, though an agreement is in place to make the switch permanent at any point of his stay in South Wales.

The last ten games between these two have ended either 2-0 or 2-1 but it wasn't to be this time with Danny Graham off the bench, with a superb one touch assist for that man De Guzman to go through to score Swansea's 3rd goal and bag his 5th of the season. This goal was back to the vintage Swansea City that Laudrup has felt has needed to be sacrificed as of late whilst on their various trips away from home.

The only disappointment for the Swans would be the late consolation goal from Michael Owen - his 150th in the Premier League which denied the Swans back to back clean sheets in the league.

The Swansea manager showed that he'd learnt from the 2-0 defeat at the Britannia earlier in the season, and his selection and tactics were once again spot on. Even with a vastly different starting 11, set up and philosophy to recent games, the Swans managed to put a performance and result together to take them to 6 games without defeat in the league.

All eyes now look toward the semi final with Chelsea in the Capital One Cup and Laudrup is happy with how his charges have set themselves up for the task.

"Winning is always the perfect preparation, winning and no injuries. I think it was a very good performance, we dominated from the first minute".

Football is a game driven by results, the style - whether that be a route one approach or rapier triangle passes - is often dictated by whoever is managing your club, and you as a dutiful fan will buy in to that ethos and ideal.

There is no right way to play football, but I'm bloody glad Swansea play the way they do.