Pass masters Swansea take to Sigurdsson
Fulham 0 Swansea City 3: Fulham are comfortably swept aside by the South Wales midfield with an Icelandic flavour
Sunday 18 March 2012
Fulham were not just passed to death by this remarkably cultured and intelligent Swansea City team; they were outworked and outgunned, the weaponry being supplied by a young man who is rapidly becoming acknowledged as one of the best signings of the winter window.
Gylfi Sigurdsson was signed by Brendan Rodgers on loan from Hoffenheim, where he was last season's player of the year, as he had been the season before at Reading. No one who has seen Swansea since January would have any difficulty working out why the folks of Baden-Wurttemberg and Berkshire alike took the Icelander to their hearts.
The gangling 22-year-old acquires elegance as the ball lands at his feet and he never seems short of ideas or enthusiasm. And Sigurdsson has started scoring goals too. After a spectacular pair at Wigan two weekends ago, he strung together a crafty header and a low sweep at Fulham, in each case having prompted Wayne Routledge to supply the service. Sigurdsson did draw a blank in the intervening match, a victory over Manchester City in which he again performed impressively.
The customarily excellent Joe Allen made sure of a third consecutive Premier League victory, lifting Swansea into eighth place. They were comfortably superior to a Fulham side whose form has taken a sudden turn for the worse. Martin Jol, the home manager, made no secret of his disappointment. He called on the experience of Danny Murphy and Damien Duff but admitted: "We were looking for something from our more experienced players and it wasn't there."
While Sigurdsson and Co were prevailing, Josh McEachran, the brightest teenager to emerge from the Chelsea ranks for years, sat out yet another match on the Swansea bench. Although it was understandable that McEachran should be loaned to a club who believe in quality, the question was always how he would get into such a well-endowed midfield: as well as Allen and Leon Britton it now features Sigurdsson, and there is competition from Mark Gower.
The Icelander, operating behind the main striker, Danny Graham, was both creator and finisher as Swansea took a merited lead 10 minutes from the interval. Having found Routledge on the right, he kept running and was in place, after Scott Sinclair had guided Routledge's cross back into the goalmouth, to stoop and head away from Mark Schwarzer. Midway through the second half, he again advanced and found Routledge, who played the ball back inside for Sigurdsson again to beat Schwarzer. Fulham's fate was sealed when Philippe Senderos, trying to clear, found Sinclair, who sent Allen through to score.
Rodgers was entitled to jubilation afterwards. "After last week, I didn't want us to be just a team that could raise itself for the bigger matches."
For him, this was the better of the two performances. In taking Swansea to 39 points, it was a reminder that their objective this season was to stay in the Premier League for more than one season. The Premier League's good fortune is that it has almost certainly been achieved.
Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Kelly, Senderos, Hangeland, Riise; Ruiz (Duff, 53), Diarra (Murphy, 71), Dembélé, Dempsey; Johnson (Frei, 66), Pogrebynak.
Swansea City (4-1-4-1): Vorm; Rangel, Caulker, Monk, Taylor (Tait, 90); Britton; Routledge, Sigurdsson (Gower, 90), Allen, Sinclair; Graham (Moore, 90).
Referee: Mark Halsey.
Man of Match: Sigurdsson (Swansea)
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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