I like Stoke. Not nearly enough that I don't want to see Swans take them apart at the Liberty on Sunday of course, but I have grown fond of them. I know that's not a fashionable opinion, mostly because Stoke don't play fashionable football. But it is easy to respect someone when they do something well, and Stoke's one-team mission to resurrect old fashioned football in this most modern of eras is a work of beauty. It's an ugly beauty, but it's there none the less. Plus, they're a well run club.
Stoke will line up with a back four so big they're practically fielding four centre halves. They'll bring pace and trickery on the flanks and, in Peter Crouch, a parody of the classic tall target man (speaking of Crouch, the folks at the Swansea Bay website haven't missed a trick in exploiting the striker for their own amusement, not to mention everyone else's). Some say watching the anachronistic Stoke is boring, but it would seem more boring to me if every team tried to play the same way. As it stands, Sunday's fixture bears all the marks of the classic "irresistible force versus immoveable object", and I can't wait to watch Swansea get their teeth into unlocking that 1950's defence. Trying and succeeding, with any luck.
Infographic by Visit Swansea Bay.
Elsewhere in the Swans world, trialists Zoltan Liptak and Vangelis Moras will try to impress at the reserves mid-week fixture versus Newcastle, and I'm actually writing this as the game is going on. 5-3 to the Geordies so far. Not so good. Stephen Dobbie has netted a brace, however, showing he was serious when he said he wanted to earn his way back into the first team. I'm a big Dobbie fan, as regular readers ought to know, and I'd like to see him given another chance as a starter before long.
To finish, here's the latest "performance index". Angel Rangel continues to own the top spot, but Ash Williams is running him closer every week. Scotty Sinclair hits the top five following his goal against WBA, whilst Neil Taylor's improvement is still not quite enough to lift him out of the basement, mostly due to his team mates slightly superior statistical performances. Try saying that seven times with a mouthful of sour sweets. I've given this disclaimer before, but it should be noted the "cold" players are simply the less statistically dominant of the whole team at present; nobody has actually played badly so far during a pretty strong first six weeks.
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