Two goals from Dutch midfielder Jonathan De Guzman saw the resurgent Swans batter Delia Smith’s Norwich City 3-0 at the Liberty Stadium (sorry about the cheap food joke). The win saw the Swans rise to 13th place in the Premier League, with a seven point cushion ahead of Cardiff City who continue to sit in the relegation drop zone.
Manager Garry Monk made just one change to the side that earned a respectable draw against Arsenal at the Emirates on Tuesday night, with full back Ben Davies replacing the unlucky Neil Taylor. Norwich also made a single change to the team that beat Sunderland last time out, with centre back Ryan Bennett coming in for Joseph Yobo.
The Swans started this game full of enthusiasm, with Jonjo Shelvey pulling the strings in midfield and Angel Rangel overlapping on the right flank. Spaniard Michu had a couple of early chances to open the scoring. His first effort on eight minutes went wide after a good pass by Angel Rangel from the right. His second on twenty four minutes forced a low save from goalkeeper John Ruddy, with Wayne Routledge charging in to take advantage of the rebound. It looked like the ball was destined for the Norwich net, however a last ditch challenge by Wes Hoolihan saved the day, putting the ball out for a Swansea corner.
Despite plenty of possession, it took the home side half an hour to break the deadlock. Midfielder Shelvey crossed into the box and the Canaries defence could only clear as far as Jonathan De Guzman on the edge of the area. The Dutchman coolly slotted the ball home, amid ecstatic applause from the Jackarmy faithful.
After the goal, wide men de Guzman and Routledge continued to cause problems for the away side, pushing high up the field in support of Wilfried Bony and Michu, as Chris Hughton’s side struggled to make any real impact.
Consequently, eight minutes later, the Swans scored a second. De Guzman was again the central figure as he passed to Bony, who in turn back-heeled the ball beautifully into the Dutchman’s path. Taking the ball in his stride, Jonno clipped the ball over Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy and into the net. This gave the home side a deserved 2-0 advantage going into the break.
Worryingly, just like the last two home games against West Brom and Crystal Palace, the second half started with one or two alarm bells as Norwich nearly got back into the game straight away. First Scottish international Robert Snodgrass hit a powerful low shot which was superbly cleared off the line by Captain Fantastic Ashley Williams. Then, Ricky van Wolfswinkel, still looking for his first goal in 23 games in all competitions saw a header turned behind by Michel Vorm.
However, after these early threats, the Swans regained control of the game. Leon Britton, making his 400th league start for the Swans continued to show his class in the centre of the park, while Wayne Routledge showed he had the beating of Norwich right back Russell Martin. Striker Wilfried Bony also demonstrated that he is not just a big target man, with some neat interplay on the deck.
Shelvey in particular went close after some great work down the Swansea left. Then he turned provider when he set De Guzman away from inside his half, racing towards goal. His lay-off to Bony was fired over, but reminded the visitors of the dangers of committing too many players forward. Another Bony back-heel led to confusion in the Canaries’ defence, causing skipper Sebastien Bassong to strike the ball against his own post.
Finally, Routledge put the result beyond doubt in the 75th minute. Jonjo Shelvey was the provider as he played a measured ball into the winger’s path. With plenty left to do and the ball behind him, Routs turned and scored, with Ruddy beaten for a third time.
In summary, we played well today and should be proud of our team. Nobody had a poor game and in fact there were top notch performances from a number of players, in particular Routledge, Williams, Shelvey, Britton and De Guzman. The midfield also had a far better balance with Jonjo sitting alongside Leon Britton. The big man clearly enjoyed his afternoon, playing some outstanding passes over the course of the game.
Celebrity chef Delia Smith and her husband are the majority shareholders at Norwich City. As well as knocking out a tasty bit of dinner, she is well known for grabbing the microphone from the club announcer at half time during a game against Manchester City in 2005 when the team had surrendered a 2 goal lead, shouting “Where are you? Where are you? Let’s be ‘avin’ you” to the Norwich fans. After her side’s performance today, she may need to give another rendition of her famous speech at this rate.
We move on to Hull City next weekend, never an easy place to go. A draw would do very nicely indeed. Up the Swans!
The teams and player marks (out of 10):
Swansea City: Vorm 7, Rangel 7, Davies 7, Chico 7, Williams (Captain) 8, Britton 8, Shelvey 8, De Guzman 8 (Dyer 6), Michu 7 (Hernandez 6), Routledge 9, Bony 7 (Vasquez NA). Unused substitutes: Tremmel, Amat, Taylor, Canas.
Swans’ man of the match: There were a number of candidates for MOM today, but I’m giving it to Wayne Routledge who gave full back Martin a torrid afternoon, capping off a fine performance with a second half goal.
Scorers: De Guzman 2, Routledge
Norwich: Ruddy 6, Martin 4, Olsson 5, Tettey 7, Bennett 5, Bassong 5, Snodgrass 6, Howson 5 (Johnson 5), Van Wolfswinkel 5 (Hooper 5), Elmander 5, Hoolihan 5 (Gutierrez 5). Unused substitutes: Bunn, Whittaker, Becchio, Redmond
Norwich man of the match: Tettey, although nobody really stood out for the visitors.
Possession stats: Swansea 59% Norwich 41%.
The match referee: Jonathan Moss 7. Moss is one of the newest referees on the Select list, having joined in 2011. Prior to the game, he had taken charge of 55 Premier League games, handing out 174 yellow cards and 6 reds. Moss was a bit erratic at times, but generally let the game flow. He handed out 3 yellow cards, with the lucky recipients being Rangel, substitute Johnson and Tettey.