January 9, 2013
The story tonight will be the glaring errors from Branislav Ivanovic, and while the Serbian deserves to be castigated for handing Swansea a two-nil advantage, nobody should be looking beyond how well the visitors performed at Stamford Bridge tonight.
We’ve all marveled at Swansea’s pass-based football, Michu’s goals, and the talented footballers throughout this side, but few recognise how hard this side works. Michael Laudrup installed a really strong defensive discipline in his team, and that hasn’t just been on display tonight.
One of the features of Swansea’s season has been how they’ve limited the top teams’ production in the country away from home this season. Think of the performances those players gave at Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham: they may well have lost two of those games, but they heavily-restricted the opposition on all three occasions. Each of those sides possess a lot of attacking talent, and Laudrup’s players limited them to just two goals cumulatively. That’s very impressive.
Tonight was the same. Chelsea had a lot of the ball, but there seemed to always be a Swansea foot in at the right moment, or a defender getting in front of a forward – that’s not panic-defending, it’s structure. Everyone gushes about how good this team is when they’re on the front foot and they’re able to pass their way through an opposition, but maybe they’re at their best when their backs are against the wall and they have to soak up pressure?
They bend, but they don’t break.