Relief. That is the only word I can use to sum up my feelings as the ball bobbed into the Fulham net past Martin Stekelenburg. As Jonjo Shelvey pulled the trigger, I crossed my fingers in hope that this shot, after he had hit 3 similar chances over, wide and at the crossbar, would nestle where every Jack wanted it too. It did, but via a pleasant piece of fortune as the ball pinballed off Dan Burn and then Brede Hangeland leaving Stekelenburg bamboozled to where the ball was actually going. It wasn’t the prettiest of goals, but after a stingy December/January in the points department for the Swans we’ll take what we can get.
The goal seemed to be all we would need as Fulham looked as crestfallen as their lone striker Dimitar Berbatov, who’s non-chalant coolness seems to have morphed into melancholic disinterest. In fact, the only real threat Fulham seemed to offer all game came from Alex Kacaniklic, who they seemed determined to use as little as possible.
The Swans had the game in the bag by the 75th minute, as Chico headed home from a Jonathan De Guzman freekick. Whilst we are on the subject of the Dutch-Canadian-Fillipino midfielder, it’s safe to say that he has irritated large portions of the support with some tepid midfield performances over the past few months and his erratic corner taking; however, I thought De Guzman had one of his best games in a Swansea shirt for a while this evening and his delivery was much improved for a player who is described on his Wikipedia page as a ‘freekick specialist’. Keep it up Jonny.
The sheer madness that is the 2013/2014 Premier League season means that Swansea have gone from being doomed and absolutely torn to shreds by pundits over the weekend, to all of a sudden neatly slotting into the top half of the league. Obviously, it is still early days yet, but hopefully this victory will spur us over the next few weeks as we meet several teams in the lower regions of the league – West Ham, Stoke and of course our Welsh pals from just up the M4.
I was never as convinced of our supposed decline as others, although obviously it was clear that we did need to improve our lukewarm showings sooner rather than later. I’ve never been one to blame the Europa League for our poor form, but I think that our trvails on the continent have certainly help fill up our physio room a lot quicker and the sheer volume of injuries recently has certainly played a large part in pummeling our points total. It now looks like we are coming through the worst of it with injuries thinning out with the return of De Guzman and Dyer. (who I thought made a great difference when he came on tonight)
We have played a lot of tough fixtures over the opening months of the season and I think most would agree that the second half of our season appears much kinder having already played many of the ‘big clubs’ at the Liberty. Our record against teams in the bottom half is very good and better than the other clubs sitting in the bottom 12 (6 wins, 5 draws and 2 losses against the bottom 12) and this will surely mean a lot more points being attainable for us over the coming months. Plus, our Europa League games are now diminishing and maybe even becoming non-existent after we come up against a star-studded Napoli side.
The Swans didn’t set the world alight tonight, but a very professional and comfortable victory over a team desperate for points. 2 games undefeaten – let the run commence!