29 November 2012

Swansea 3-1 West Brom

A rampant Swansea swept aside high flying West Brom with a dazzling first half performance, as the Baggies produced a Jekyll and Hyde performance in south Wales which cost them their winning streak.
A Romelu Lukaku strike on half time only served to reduce the arrears as goals from Michu and a Wayne Routledge double put the home side in control from the start.
De Guzman and Shechter dropped to the bench for the Liberty stadium clash, as Nathan Dyer and Ki were recalled. Lukaku and Youssouf Mulumbu came into the Albion starting line up, in place of Shane Long, who dropped to the bench, and Zoltan Gera who dropped out of the squad altogether.
The Swans dictated the play early on, common knowledge of course that they enjoy possession at home. An improvised Pablo chip played in the prolific Michu, but Boaz Myhill stood firm. The Welsh fans wouldn't have to wait long for the opener, though. On 9 Nathan Dyer's deep cross was collected by Pablo who returned the ball into the goalmouth where Michu beat Olsson, and ultimately beat Myhill.

A couple of minutes later, it was almost like watching a replay. The carbon copy was dinked over Myhill by Routledge from close range, after excellent work from Pablo once again. The Baggies were the only remaining team in the Premier League before tonight to have avoided conceding in the first 30 minutes of games this season, but the quickfire double from the hosts put paid to that statistic.
For most of the first half, it was much the same story. Swansea enjoyed plenty of possession, Albion struggling to hold onto the ball when they had it and struggled even more to regain it when their opponents had it. The stat of possession being 70-30% in the home side's favour reflected this.
Peter Odemwingie managed a long range effort which was well wide after good work from the returning Mulumbu. At the other end, Nathan Dyer had a penalty appeal waved away when seemingly bundled over, the two successive corners that followed came to nothing.
The Swans stretched their advantage even further 6 minutes before the break. Once again, Pablo was involved on the left, although this time the Spaniard laid the ball off to the overlapping Ben Davies. The young left back drilled a low ball across the face of the visitors' goal and Routledge was on hand to turn the ball beyond the helpless Myhill.
Pablo, a summer signing from Valencia, continued to be the Baggies' prime terror and swung a looping ball to the back post which Michu failed to convert. Lukaku gave Albion a glimmer of hope three minutes into stoppage time when he blasted home from close range following a Jonas Olsson flick on from a Chris Brunt corner. The Belgian's goal was his 5th of the season, and was ultimately the last kick of an eventful first half.
H-T: 3-1
The early signs of the second period were that Steve Clarke had instilled urgency and an attacking intent into his side's style of play, reflected in his decision to push Odemwingie up front alongside Lukaku into a reverted 4-4-2 formation.
Loanee Lukaku had the first opportunity to chip away at the Swans' lead further when he received an over-the-top ball from McAuley, but he could only balloon high and wide after good defensive pressure. Brunt was found to be wasteful moments later, but the signs were encouraging.
Routledge had the chance to complete his hat-trick on 53. He found himself in a tight penalty area and was charged down by Olsson, although replays showed that the ball bounced off the Swede's arm.
But the Baggies were slowly coming out of their shell, Yacob and Mulumbu who had been impressive all season were starting to stamp their authority on the game and dictating the play. Lukaku was trying to inject urgency, WBA-crossing from the left, but Williams beat Odemwingie to the ball.
Michael Laudrup replaced Nathan Dyer with Albion old boy Luke Moore, but his striking partner Michu was to have more chances. Moore initially laid the ball off to Michu and he fired at Myhill. The forward then headed wide from a Pablo cross, the latter soon coming off to allow Agustien to enter. Interestingly Clarke kept the same side out for 90 minutes, meaning Shane Long didn't get on at all- it can be expected that he and Gera were rested in preparation for Stoke on Saturday.
Ki curled a free kick into the side netting late on, and the game eventually petered out, the home side very much good value for their victory and points. Albion drop to fourth, Swansea move onto 20 points- 6 behind tonight's opponents.
Match ratings: SWA- Tremmel 6, Rangel 6, Williams 7, Chico 6, Davies 7, Britton 6, Dyer 7 (Moore 64, 6), Routledge 8, Ki 7, Pablo 8 (De Guzman 74, 5), Michu 7 (Agustien 86)
WBA- Myhill 6, Jones 6, McAuley 6, Olsson 6, Ridgewell 6, Yacob 7, Mulumbu 6, Odemwingie 6, Morrison 6, Brunt 6, Lukaku 7

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