Swansea currently sit 13th in the Premier League, having taken just seven points from their campaign’s opening six games.
While that may not suggest that Michael Laudrup’s side are off to a flyer, but with Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Spurs scheduled as four of their first half-dozen fixtures, the Dane would arguably have bitten your hand off for that return when the schedule was announced.
Last season, the Swans could have been forgiven for feeling sorry for themselves when they lost manager Brendan Rodgers to Liverpool, but his replacement has only gone on to build on his predecessor’s excellent first season.
The Dane helped Swansea live up to their football betting odds by winning the League Cup and qualifying for Europe for the first time in over a decade.
The highlight of their season so far was undoubtedly their 3-0 win away at Valencia in the Europa League, a result that surprised many people who bet on football, but their domestic performances have also attracted praise.
Certainly their two wins to date – against Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion, both away from home, both by a scoreline of 2-0 – suggest that they can more than hold their own when they play against their more direct rivals.
Speaking after their recent 2-1 loss to Arsenal, Laudrup was understandably philosophical, but admitted that his players would have to be more ruthless if they want to build on last season’s success:
“We gave them fifteen minutes of the ninety but that was enough… It was a tight game and you know that will be the case when you play a team top of the table. You cannot expect to create eight or nine chances.”
If Swansea intend to push on again, and qualify for Europe by virtue of their league position, then they will need to find a way to take points from these games – but Laudrup will be encouraged that he saw his side do exactly that in Spain a fortnight ago, and will be demanding more of the same.