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Swansea City grateful for gifted point

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 12, 2012

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Southampton 1, Swansea City 1.

NOT particularly pretty, but pretty effective.

Michael Laudrup, once of Barcelona's Dream Team, will not want to hear such a description used too often to describe his Swansea City side this season.

But on this occasion, he will take it.

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Swansea have played plenty of good football in the early days of the Laudrup era, attacking opponents with style and usually causing problems.

Laudrup's men have given better defences than Southampton's much to think about this season.

On Saturday, however, they had Southampton's shaky rearguard to thank for what ultimately goes down as a satisfactory point.

Laudrup wanted more from the trip to face a Saints side who have managed only one Premier League victory this season.

He felt that if his team got their performance right, Southampton could be exposed.

But Swansea did not reach their levels for long periods at St Mary's and, given their display, they were a little fortunate not to suffer a fourth successive defeat on their Premier League travels.

Laudrup admitted as much when conceding that had this been boxing rather than football, Swansea would have hung on in there without impressing the judges.

"For me when you get a point, I always ask is it one gained or two lost," he said, "and this is one gained.

"If it had been a boxing match, Southampton may have won it on points.

"But saying that, two weeks ago I thought we deserved something against Manchester City and we didn't get it.

"I think that when you get to the end of the season, the balance is more or less fair between these games.

"Maybe there will be some where you felt you deserved more, but also there will be games where you got something without playing as well."

This fell into the latter category, for Swansea were short of their best and, for a spell in the second half, looked like being bullied out of the game by a Southampton side who were desperate for success.

After the hosts got the goal which had been coming, through Morgan Schneiderlin, it was only their defensive weakness which allowed Swansea to claim an equaliser.

Nathan Dyer's precise finish is worth watching again but, apart from that, Southampton away will not take up too much space on Swansea's end-of-season highlights DVD.

"We have to be satisfied with a point," Laudrup added.

"We have lost our last three away games.

"They have been different performances, but they all ended with the same result.

"I know my team. I know how well we play at home, but we need to get some points away from home.

"Every away game in this league is very difficult and, when you think of the pressure Southampton put us under in the second half, we have to be satisfied with one point here."

The draw maintained the eight-point gap between Swansea and Southampton, who climbed off the bottom this weekend but are still a lowly 19th.

Swansea are seven points clear of Reading in the last relegation place — although the Royals have a game in hand — which is the same margin that separates Laudrup's men from the fourth Champions League slot.

As has been the case almost throughout three months of the season, Swansea are secure in mid-table.

If they can keep it that way through until May, Laudrup will be delighted.

There was not a lot on display to get him particularly excited on Saturday, but the fact is that Swansea are now a point closer to the key target of this campaign, which is to maintain their top-flight status.

So too are Southampton, of course, but it is Swansea who look the better bet to survive right now.

There was much speculation about how they might fare this season following the departure of Brendan Rodgers. In fact there were concerns about whether Swansea would cope.

There is still a huge distance to travel before Swansea can contemplate a third season in the Premier League, but so far, the signs are pretty good.

As has to remain the case throughout the campaign, Swansea have to be strong at the Liberty Stadium.

And so far they have collected four points from five away league games which, while it is not spectacular, is a ratio which will do fine as long as the good form continues in SA1.

Laudrup looks to have goals in his team and, after a spell where they were too easily breached, Swansea have been more resolute at the other end of the field in recent times.

That is a promising mix.

Southampton have scored goals too, and Swansea got some idea why this weekend as Rickie Lambert's physical presence caused problems and Adam Lallana led the supporting cast.

Southampton's problem has been their horrendous defensive record — it is now 29 goals conceded in 11 league games — and so it was familiar tale for them this weekend.

What was unusual was that Southampton took the lead, a feat they had not achieved in a league game since their promotion from the Championship.

Swansea had begun the contest with greater purpose, and their passing was slick throughout the first half until they reached the final third.

Ki Sung-Yueng had the visitors' only chance before the break, the South Korean drawing a smart save from Paulo Gazzaniga after some clever footwork in the penalty area.

Southampton did not create much more, though Lallana forced Gerhard Tremmel to parry and Gaston Ramirez rattled a couple of 20-yard drives into the advertising hoardings.

There were better signs for Swansea early in the second period when Angel Rangel's neat exchange with Pablo Hernandez carved an opportunity for Wayne Routledge, but his 20-yard stinger flew just too high.

With that Southampton stepped up a gear. There were two penalty shouts for challenges on Lallana — first from Ashley Williams, then Garry Monk — but Swansea survived on each occasion.

There were blocks, clearances and last-ditch tackles, but Swansea cracked when one of various Lambert knockdowns fell to Schneiderlin, and the French midfielder took one touch on his chest before heading beyond Tremmel.

The lead lasted only nine minutes — thanks chiefly to Southampton.

Gazzaniga might have launched the ball into the stands, instead he played it short to Maya Yoshida.

The Japanese international centre-back's touch was heavy, and Dyer made Southampton pay, seizing possession and rattling in a shot via the far post.

To his credit, the Southampton old boy kept his celebrations to a minimum.

Behind the goal, and in the away dugout, it was smiles all round.

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  • trncjack  |  November 13 2012, 3:21PM

    my opinion for what its worth , we are not as strong in midfield when playing mitchu and graham together ,and we are not scoring without danny graham, the option allthough hard is to drop mitchu,

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  • brochadav  |  November 13 2012, 1:26PM

    Are people forgetting the Swans are minnows in this league? any point away is a good point, even more so when it's earned from a poor performance. We cannot expect to win any game at home, never mind away. Coming from behind shows character, desire and a huge effort is being made. Instead of having a go we should be praising the team for their effort. The Saints are a bigger team than us with a far bigger budget, lets not forget who we are or where we are in the scheme of things.

    Rate   11
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  • Lynbaz  |  November 13 2012, 11:18AM

    hadoken, I thought that each position was worth over £800k.

    Rate   3
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  • Hadoken858585  |  November 13 2012, 1:42AM

    There is that worrying stat again, swansea conceeding more first half goals than any team in the league, which make every game for us difficult to win and draw. If we are going draw, surely its better to get a draw by not conceeding in the first place, we were lucky to get that goal, dont get me wrong, it was a great little move by dyer, but it was a gift, and we should not treat gifted draws the same as ones we deserved as we will not be that lucky in the grand scheme of things. If swans have an issue with winning away, I have a suggestion, why doesnt the club invest a bit of that money it made into making it easier and cheaper for fans to follow them. They should put on cheaper away tickets or substitute them with other incentives and help with travel. If swans had a maximum away crowd at every game I am sure it would help. Its in the interest of the club and it would pay for itself in my opinion given every position in this league is worth over a 100k. If the fans are helping to motivate the team into doing better, then to me, it seems natural that the club should invest in the fans, instead of charing silly amounts of money for a pie and coke. Think of it as a promotion tool.

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  • carjack  |  November 12 2012, 8:59PM

    Swans will have a bigger task next week when they visit Newcastle. They must get a win on the road by christmas, or all the teams that they vist will think they are there for the taking. Laudrupp needs to call the phscycologist into play and get them in the right mind set for these away games. nThey have to be more ruthless in their approach. Up The SWANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • morton1947  |  November 12 2012, 12:31PM

    Any point away from home will prove invaluable at the end of the season so onwards and upwards guys.

    Rate   8
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  • Lynbaz  |  November 12 2012, 11:01AM

    "We have to be satisfied with a point here". Maybe, but the pertinent question is WHY? There was no surprise in the way Saints came at us because we have been aware of this for weeks. That we were so dominated by a team at the bottom of the table is worrying in the context of fixtures to come. Is this team as good as we think or do they have a soft underbelly that struggles to compete when the going gets tough? Yes we look good in games against the "bigger" teams but that's because they allow us to play thinking they are better at it than we are. Our problem seems to come with teams who are prepared to battle and not allow us to settle and play our football. There are far more of games of the latter type and they are the ones which ultimately will decide our fate in this league. With that in mind, I would like to see either a lot more "dog" from our present midfield but failing that I think that a combative midfield player should be high on the list of Michael Laudrup's priorities.

    Rate   5
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