|AFC Bournemouth 3 v 0 Swansea City|
Tuesday, 16th March 2021 Kick-off 19:45
Swans hit another brick wall and lose to Bournemouth. The game dissected.
Wednesday, 17th Mar 2021 10:35 by Keith Haynes & Steph Thomas
This wasn’t the be all and end all of games, it wasn’t even a defining moment in the season that has seen the swans in contention again for the premier league. What it was last night on the south coast of England was confirmation that Swansea City, despite their desire to win every game possible haven’t got the tools to do so. The swans will make the play offs but any more matches like the one we witnessed last night in Bournemouth, and indeed at Huddersfield and it will be another tale of so close but so far.
It isn’t even a moan, nor a complaint. The swans under Cooper have had a great season, the individual matches as mentioned, Bournemouth being the most recent don’t bode well for a promotion play off battle. In the game at the Vitality stadium we saw a last ditch attempt at the back to compensate for the loss of Marc Guehi who worked so well alongside Ben Cabango and Ryan Bennett earlier in the season. Last ditch tackles, especially by Kyle Naughton displayed a defence no longer sure of itself and no longer capable of confidently defending keeper Freddie Woodman.
Despite one good save from Woodman at the vitality stadium his game looked flawed at times. Most certainly it is agreed he should have put a stronger hand on the cherries first goal. A superb execution by a completely unmarked Billing saw the cherries go one up, but there are dissenters who genuinely believe he is out of form at the wrong time of the season. It’s pretty certain had Guehi played he would have matched the giant like Billing in that situation. Swansea are losing games by three and four goals, its no longer a one off, the defeat at Bournemouth was the third time in recent games the swans have conceded three plus goals. Not promotion form, and not the form of a team wanting to win a play off battle.
The introduction of Manning and Cabango being reduced to the bench hasn’t worked for Swansea. Jake Bidwell needs to be restored to the left wing back role. Jay Fulton too needs some kind of introduction back to the swans midfield. Okay, Dhanda is a more attacking option but last night he showed little. The midfield has Matt Grimes, Yan Dhanda, Korey Smith, Jay Fulton and Conor Hourihane to choose from. Making Hourihane fit this formation is noticeably causing issues. There is no out and out winger at the club, it restricts the match day strategy because then you rely on the wing backs to make a difference as well as defend. When it works, it works really well. However in recent times it hasn’t worked at all. Roberts is stalling when he receives the ball, opponents have worked out the attacking moves on the right side of the pitch as well. It was always going to happen.
Joel Latibeaudiere looks reasonably sound in defence, and he can’t be blamed for the poor luck he had for his own goal on the brink of half time. However, his positioning for the first goal wasn’t good. The header for the second goal again came from a Bournemouth player allowed to dictate the play in the penalty area. In that first half there were some flashes of the old swans from months gone by, pacy inter play saw crosses flashing across the cherries penalty area with not one swans player in a position to convert the effort.
The real concern was the way Swansea set up mentally for the second half. For the first ten minutes we saw a team completely out of sorts, just not at the races. There was no leadership, no communication and that word ‘fatigue’ looked more than evident. Dhanda sadly made no difference, but there was a bright point. Morgan Whittaker came on and showed some deft touches and eked out two great efforts which required some superb goalkeeping to keep out. That certainly showed us what the swans have been missing both when an opportunity presents itself outside the area - and inside the area.
There is very little pace in this side, in fact Jamal Lowe and Andre Ayew contributed very little in this away defeat. Running round in circles and doing too much seems to be Ayew’s game at the moment, and Lowe for all his effort is getting absolutely nowhere. A start for Whittaker can’t be any worse than what we have witnessed from Lowe and Ayew, the latter possibly retaining his place as he does concentrate the minds of the opposition. It is a case of working with what you have, and Cooper has limited choices, he has had a remarkable season again, no doubt, but how he has got to where he is hasn’t been pretty. When he needed considerable investment he was never going to get it. The loss of Jordan Morris was a serious blow, you just knew at the time that was coming in such a competitive league. Paul Arriola is clearly not Cooper’s choice ( in fact we know he isn’t ) and his injury has been a convenient excuse for his non selection, of course when he was fit he saw little game time.
The defeat at Bournemouth was a watershed, the third goal came as a result of a swans side pushing forwards for some sort of solace. Again though the way Woodman was beaten at his near post wasn’t good. It’s behind us now, the game has gone, there are ten to play and the one every swans fan wants to win comes on Saturday against Cardiff City. A win then and things will at least feel better, and if that happens it will be an historical moment. The first time either side has won home and away in one season in the history of this derby game.
To do that Cooper needs to sort out what is going wrong, he sees it every day as does Marsh, they both need to be brave but careful in the changes they most certainly need to make. The international break can’t come quick enough for Swansea City, one big push on Saturday is required, there is no acceptable standard other than the very best.
All this and the swans are on the brink of the automatic promotion spots. However, in reality with form so poor, even when winning that is just a disguise and one Cooper needs to manage and quickly.
Bournemouth: Begovic; Stacey, Carter-Vickers, S. Cook (C), Rico; Wilshere (Pearson 71), Billing, Lerma; Danjuma (Mepham 90+1), Stanislas (Riquelme 39), Solanke.
Subs not used: Travers, Long, Surridge, Kilkenny, Anthony, Zemura.
Goals: Billing 9, Latibeaudiere OG 45+1, Danjuma 87
Yellow card: Rico 58
Swansea City: Woodman; Naughton, Bennett, Latibeaudiere (Whittaker 46); Roberts, Grimes (C), Smith (Dhanda 68) Hourihane (Routledge 80), Manning; Lowe, Ayew.
Subs not used: Hamer, Cabango, Bidwell, Freeman, Fulton, O Cooper.
Referee: James Linington
Licensed from Reuters
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