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All eyes on Stoke now after cup solace

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: September 27, 2012

Michu scores to take Swansea into a first-half lead

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MICHAEL Laudrup has admitted his Swansea City players may have got carried away by early-season hype as they prepare for a weekend trip to Stoke City.

Laudrup has played down suggestions made by his two most senior players that Swansea did not play as a unit in last Saturday's comprehensive home defeat by Everton.

Alan Tate suggested Swansea had "gone away from the team aspect which made us good last season" after David Moyes's men romped home 3-0 at the Liberty.

And club skipper Garry Monk said something similar before making his first appearance of the season in the Capital One Cup win at Crawley Town on Tuesday night.

Laudrup did not agree — but conceded that the Everton humbling had served as a reality check.

Asked what he had made of the comments, Laudrup said: "I think we are a team, and I don't think now is the moment to go back and look too much at Everton.

"But overall let's just say that everybody has received so many plaudits and pats on the back in the first couple of weeks and, when everybody tells you are the greatest, that you play so well and you are so fantastic, in the end maybe some players believe it.

"It's good sometimes to get both feet back on the ground and sometimes you need a sad loss to make that happen.

"After that you always have to see the reaction, and the reaction in a very difficult game at Crawley was great."

Swansea can expect a test of their unity at the Britannia Stadium, a ground where opposition sides have been known to buckle under the combined pressure of an imposing home side and a vociferous crowd.

A significant improvement on the miserable Everton performance is required if Swansea are to end a three-game winless run in the Premier League.

Swansea were pulled apart by the Toffees who, talented side as they are, were given an easy ride in SA1 thanks to their hosts' shortcomings.

Stoke, who are still chasing a first win of the new campaign after a taxing set of early fixtures, will be hungry to give Swansea another hard time.

But confidence should be lifted in visiting ranks following the hard-fought success at Crawley.

Swansea had looked set for a comfortable night after Michu's fifth goal of the season gave them a first-half lead, but they allowed the League One side back into the contest and were staring at an embarrassing cup exit at 2-1 down with 16 minutes to go.

"Crawley was a good boost for us," Laudrup added. "I already said after Everton that it's important to get back on track with the feeling of a win after you have lost a game.

"To win, and especially to come back from 2-1 down with five or six players in there who have not been playing, was very good.

"It was very good to see that reaction — the reaction and seeing some of the non-regular players playing are the two big positives."

Monk was among the fringe figures who impressed in West Sussex, the centre-back looking assured on the back foot and then popping up with the 91st-minute goal that saved Swansea from extra time.

Dwight Tiendalli, signed as left-back cover but playing on the right, also produced an encouraging display, the Dutchman even claiming an assist when he crossed for Danny Graham to head home.

Mark Gower was steady, Ki Sung-Yueng did okay in his first ever start as a centre-back and Leon Britton produced a performance in midfield which will surely see him back in the league side at Stoke.

Saturday is the big game of the week, particularly after recent disappointments in the Premier League, but Laudrup keeps talking up the cups.

"I said to the players that the more games we have, the better," he said.

"And in the cup you never know, you get through one round and you get through another and then suddenly you are in the quarter-final.

"I think especially for smaller clubs like us the cup is very important. The cup is something special, that's why you see tight games like we had at Crawley and sometimes some huge surprises.

"I don't have to say it — just look at the statistics. Last year Swansea lost to Shrewsbury 3-1. Sometimes the big clubs lose away, not only here but in Italy, Germany and Spain.

"Real Madrid two years ago lost 4-0 to a small club from Madrid — it is possible. These cup games are completely different."

With the next round more than a month away, Swansea can put thoughts of the cup on hold.

The focus returns to the Premier League, and on responding to Everton by getting something at Stoke.

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