After heartening results in “no hope” away matches the Swans face a run of winnable games they must take advantage of, starting with Burnley
3 March ~ Swansea’s recent form means that they approach Saturday’s home clash with Burnley in an upbeat mood that was inconceivable just two months back. Two abject home defeats against West Ham and Bournemouth in late December had even the most optimistic fans resigned to relegation. Seven league games later and hope abounds.
New manager Paul Clement has overseen a radical transformation of the team from disorientated rabble to well-organised collective. Heartening performances at “no hope” away games at Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea sandwiched successive home wins over Southampton and Leicester. The shapeless bunch that were bottom on New Year’s Eve have put survival into their own hands.
Yet there is also an unmistakeable tension in the air. The team’s performances during a difficult run of away games were heartening but with four potentially winnable fixtures to come (three against fellow strugglers) there is an expectation that good displays will now be turned into points.
Twelve months back the Swans defeated Norwich and Villa in tense, scrappy home performances that went a long way to preserving their Premier League status. Something similar is again required from the next two home fixtures with the Clarets and Middlesbrough, particularly with games at Hull and Bournemouth in between. The Swans’ final fixtures at Sunderland and at home to West Brom could be much more daunting but we really don’t want to leave it that late.
The contrast between Burnley’s fine home form and their poor away record is also encouraging for Swansea. Indeed, our opening day win at Turf Moor with hindsight looks one of the club’s best of a troubled season, while the Clarets have gained only two points on their travels.
Yet there is also a nagging voice familiar to all seasoned fans that suggests that runs such as Burnley’s must end sooner or later. They are also the type of obdurate well-organised opponents that the Swans sometimes struggle against.
Recent games between the clubs have been settled by the only goal of the game in the Swans favour. Most of their fans would settle for something similar this weekend. Gareth Phillips