Following Swansea's dismal self sabotage against Blackburn, the Swans picked themselves up to chalk up a very respectable three points against a decent Fulham side.
If the game against Blackburn had been frustrating way to squander three points, the Swans certainly learned their lesson. The chief culprit that day was the way the team defended (or rather didn't defend) set-pieces. Against Fulham, the focus was back, the Swans successfully defending five corners in posting another clean sheet.
At the other end, another point I had raised last time - the Swans inability to capitalise on their own set-pieces - was also neatly addressed as Danny Graham, coming off the bench this time, used his strength to hold a near post position before deftly flicking Mark Gower's low drilled corner kick into the net. Another example of how Swansea are far more dangerous from corner kicks when they try something other than belting high balls in the box. After all, the team's open field play does not make much use of high crosses, and for a good reason - namely a lack of height in the side and the Swans ball-to-feet short passing philosophy. So why should corner kicks be any different?
Among the big talking points was of course Michel Vorm's second penalty save of the season. Vorm had the "penalty killer" nickname before he came to the Liberty, and it's easy to see why. Vorm picked up a yellow for time wasting before the kick, and whether or not that was a deliberate gambit to ice Clint Dempsey it worked wonders.
Also notable was Rodgers team sheet; Steven Caulker, returning from injury, was re-inserted into the back four at the expense of Monk, who made a commendable effort to play through niggling injuries of his own during the Spurs' man's absence. Wayne Routledge got the start on the right wing in place of Dyer; a move directly related to Angel Rangel's injury. Without his foil at right back, with whom he has such chemistry, Dyer has looked isolated. He'll need a rest, too, especially given the way he plays every week, so what better time than now?
Perhaps the biggest move was the inclusion of Luke Moore, given his first start of the season following an impressive cameo performance against Blackburn, which saw him score a tasty half volley. It is nice to see Moore really making an effort to impress; his demeanour has looked somewhat apathetic, bordering on sulky in the past; here, he was sharp and dangerous, stinging the crossbar early on and looking lively in the hole for the 70 mins he was on the field.
All told, the win versus Fulham will have given the Swans some more valuable confidence, going into a string of tightly packed and potentially difficult fixtures; Newcastle away, Everton away, QPR and Tottenham at home. It's been said the standings on New Year's day generally tell you who'll win and who's for the drop. This would be a fine time for the Swans to find a run of good form.
Positives : Getting the win. Michel Vorm. Lively looking Luke Moore. Clint Dempsey's off day.
Negatives : ..?
(Note: I appreciate this blog is a game behind... there will be more very soon, including some reflections on the Newcastle game and a look at Brendan Rodgers xmas shopping list)
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