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Tough day for Jones as Swansea City beat Stoke

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: January 21, 2013

Comments (4)

LEFT on the bench to begin with, he came on when the game was all but over and barely got a touch of the ball.

Kenwyne Jones then rounded off his quiet afternoon at the Liberty Stadium by politely declining requests for an interview.

Jones preferred to keep his powder dry amid talk of a full-time return to SA1 this month.

If he comes — and it seems Swansea City are determined to get him — the big centre-forward will surely have happier days in Wales.

For Jones, for all concerned with Stoke City, this was a miserable trip to Landore, for the Potters were outplayed.

For a while in the first half it seemed Stoke might frustrate Swansea, that Michael Laudrup's men would fail to break down Tony Pulis's vaunted defence.

But once Ben Davies produced the best moment of his promising young career to put Swansea in front, there only looked like being one winner.

And so it proved, as Laudrup's team motored away from their rivals in mid-table to make it 33 points from 23 league games.

That is a spectacular tally given that there are still ten days left in January.

If Jones does sign before the month is out, he will not be joining a team with any relegation concerns — even if Laudrup would not say as much this weekend.

When it was suggested to him that Swansea could not possibly slip out of the Premier League this season, the Dane played it cool.

"I'd rather talk about 33 points after 23 games because that's a lot," he said.

"I'm pleased with that and when you look at the table, and especially the points, I'd be a liar if I said I wasn't happy.

"It was really great to win against Stoke because obviously we all know there is quite an important game coming up on Wednesday and what maybe people forgot is that after that we have two away games in the league with West Ham and Sunderland in four days, so it was important for us to win this one."

There were some concerns before kick-off that the prospect of Chelsea might harm Swansea here, that their focus might be blurred with the Capital One Cup semi-final just around the corner.

There was no need to fret. Swansea took a little while to get warmed up against Stoke, but they looked a team well aware of the need to rack up a first home win in the Premier League since the end of November.

And the beauty of Swansea's successes in the league this season is that they can put everything into the Chelsea tie and not have any concerns about their status.

"I really think that the game on Wednesday is so special," Laudrup added.

"It's a semi-final and we got a fantastic result from the first game, but to beat Chelsea over two legs is very complicated and we know they have very good away form, so it's still 50-50.

"The important thing for me is that we have that possibility to get through.

"And whatever happens, win, draw or lose, on Wednesday the players will do everything for every ball and give everything until they cannot run one yard longer."

Laudrup's team talk probably won't last that long in midweek. His players are well aware that a first ever major final is within their grasp, so they will not need motivating.

Prior to Stoke, by contrast, Laudrup felt there was a need to ensure his players' minds were right.

"The last thing I said to them in the team meeting was that I could understand if they were thinking about Chelsea," he revealed.

"But at this level, if your focus is elsewhere, you will lose the game and there will also be a big risk of injuries."

Happily, Laudrup reported, there are no fitness concerns post-Stoke.

And with another three points on the board, he conceded, this was close to a perfect day.

"And apart from getting the win, it was also the way we did it," he added.

"We all remember the game earlier in the season at Stoke and it's always physical when we play them, but we dominated the game for at least 90 per cent of the time.

"We didn't get involved in the physical aspect. Obviously when they play the ball up there you have to deal with it, but we did that very well, both in the back four and with Ki in midfield."

Swansea crumbled miserably at the Britannia back in September, but here it was Stoke who were swatted aside.

With Jones, their form attacking player, kicking his heels for the most part, Stoke's threat was close to non-existent.

Matthew Etherington had a couple of half-chances in the first half, and Cameron Jerome shot wastefully over the top late in the second period.

When Michael Owen headed home his first Stoke goal in stoppage time, the contest was done and dusted.

Up until that point, this game had been more about Swansea's attacking threat than anything Stoke could muster — and that was despite the fact that Michu had a fairly disappointing day by his exceptional standards.

The Spaniard skewed one early shot well wide, then skied a volley which looped into the arms of Asmir Begovic.

But on a bitterly cold day at the Liberty, Swansea gradually began to warm up.

Davies cut inside Dean Whitehead but saw his shot blocked by the sliding Robert Huth, then Angel Rangel fooled Etherington before crossing for Michu to head wide when it seemed the breakthrough beckoned.

Yet any concerns about whether Swansea would break Stoke down were eased early in the second period when Davies nipped in between Jonathan Walters and Ryan Shawcross and placed his shot into the far corner of the net.

"Ben deserves everything he is getting right now," smiled Laudrup.

"I think this will be a very special day for him."

Jonathan de Guzman will also remember this fixture, for he stepped up to finish Stoke off.

First the Dutchman whipped an arcing free-kick over the Stoke wall and inside Begovic's post, then he finished off one of Swansea's goals of the season.

There appeared to be little on when Wayne Routledge collected possession in his own half, but the winger exchanged passes with Angel Rangel — whose contribution was a backheel — before feeding substitute Danny Graham.

Graham, the striker who could be heading out of Swansea to make room for Jones, played a fabulous first-time ball to de Guzman, who took a couple of touches before lifting the ball over Begovic and into the net. "That goal had everything that we do on the training ground every day," purred Laudrup.

And so to Chelsea, before Swansea return to league action at Sunderland in eight days' time.

Now looking safe in mid-table and with Wembley on the horizon, Laudrup's side have a chance to do something special this spring.

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  • hacker_jack  |  January 21 2013, 12:23PM

    Lita is at Birmingham on loan. Jones isn't a bad player, but he won't be getting games ahead of Graham for us and is too expensive (fee + wages) to have sitting on the bench. We should only be selling Graham if we can get someone as good in return. The Jones of 3 years ago would be a no-brainer yes, the Jones of today simply isnt good enough to be a regular as is too expensive not to be.

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  • Neathboy234  |  January 21 2013, 11:33AM

    I would like to see Kenwyne Jones joining us, we need someone who can score from corners, something which is sadly lacking at the moment. I'd also like to keep Graham, and get rid of those others below him in the pecking order. Where is Lita these days anyway

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  • Lynbaz  |  January 21 2013, 11:20AM

    Fabulous team performance by our Swans, three excellent goals with the third a master class of fast counter attacking football superbly set up by Danny Graham. I would love him to stay and Kenwyne Jones would be a big asset for us as well. He is quick and for a big man has a more than decent touch. His aerial power would give us real options up front and solid cover from set pieces. I think he would fit very well with us and thrive on the service he would get.

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  • hacker_jack  |  January 21 2013, 10:26AM

    Just proves he isnt good enough for us doesnt it.

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