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Would Tottenham’s Alex Pritchard be a good fit for Swansea?



As Swansea boss Francesco Guidolin looks to bolster his attacking options at the Liberty Stadium, according to the Daily Mirror, one signing he is reportedly keen on is that of 23-year old Tottenham Hotspur playmaker Alex Pritchard.  The creative young winger came through the ranks at Spurs after leaving West Ham as a 15-year old and having spent the majority of his career at White Hart Lane out on loan to Football League clubs, he has become highly rated amongst the Tottenham contingent due to his form lower down the pyramid.

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After two impressive spells with Peterborough United and Swindon Town, Pritchard spent a season on loan with West London club Brentford in 2014/15, scoring 12 goals and clocking up a further seven assists for Mark Warburton’s team as the Bees reached the Championship playoffs. They were eventually overcome by eventual beaten-finalists Middlesbrough, but the youngster was only making a bigger name for himself. Pritchard found last season tougher going having missed a large part of the campaign through injury, and struggled for form and football when loaned out to West Bromwich Albion.

The Mirror‘s reckoning is that parent club Tottenham are now ready to cash in on the player, and that the Swans are tabling a bid of £8m in order to bring the winger to South Wales. Former Spurs players Kyle Naughton and Gylfi Sigurdsson currently ply their trade at the Liberty Stadium, and the offer of first team football and the familiarity of former teammates may well help make Pritchard an ideal fit for the Welsh club should Daniel Levy sanction the deal.

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Leeds United and Newcastle United are two potential suitors who would be interested in taking the youngster out on loan, with Pritchard’s price tag slightly beyond their financial reach. But after four loans away from North London, a permanent move away from White Hart Lane may well be best for the player regarding his long-term development, since he can finally settle down in more stable surroundings and play first-team football more regularly. And Swansea may well offer that.

After an exodus of forwards, Guidolin is seeking out a player who can help bolster his attacking options in his preferred 4-3-3 formation, and given his creative presence, Pritchard could well fit the bill featuring on his preferred left-side of the attacking three or perhaps in the midfield to drive the attack further forward and create opportunities from deep. He is also a proficient set-piece taker, exhibited by some of his goals from free-kicks during his spells out on loan, an area from which Swansea from direct attempts at goal or providing service to forwards or tall centre-halves like Ashley Williams, may well look to profit.

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So there is no doubt of Pritchard’s potential to dislodge Jefferson Montero or the ageing Wayne Routledge and force himself into the first-team reckoning at Swansea. The Swans did manage 42 goals in their 38 Premier League games last season, but with their top scorer in André Ayew providing the biggest contribution of 12 from the wing, as an issue with misfiring centre-forwards still looms large over Guidolin’s head- and indeed several of those are headed for the exit door- he may look to more goals from his wider players in  the forward three and after Pritchard netted 12 in the Championship, there is plenty of reason to suggest that the youngster may well be capable of a reasonable goal-return for the club, to help relieve some of the pressure on Ayew as the team’s main source of goals.

With European pedigree as a coach during his time in Italy, Guidolin will be looking for Swansea to improve on their 12th-place finish last season and grace the Europa League as they did in 2013/14 courtesy of their Capital One Cup triumph the season before. To help match these ambitions, strength in depth is necessary for Swansea and in the areas in need of strengthening, Pritchard on paper seems a good fit, and the prospect of regular first-team football and a chance for the youngster to really concentrate on his game may make it a match made in heaven for both the player and his potential employers.

Swansea are well equipped in wide areas granted, but the player has age on his side and even if he initially encounters trouble in dislodging the more-experienced wide players, he can expect to see himself in the first-team picture the longer he remains at the club and as he begins to peak with age he may well be a strong acquisition for the long-term as well as immediate future at Swansea. For now, the ball in in Tottenham’s court, and both player and club will be waiting on what Levy and the board decide is the best course of action over the future of their asset.

Scott is a Port Vale fan who writes regularly for The Boot Room as a freelancer. He is a fan of several sports but most of his experience in journalism comes from football and volleyball. He has produced several works on major Championships for both the FIVB and CEV in the volleyball world out in Switzerland, and is currently studying for a BA Hons in Modern Languages at the University of Oxford.

FA Cup

Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Swansea City – Tammy Abraham didn’t take first-team opportunity

Jake Jackman




Swansea City were held in the FA Cup away to Championship club Sheffield Wednesday. The Swans have been drawn to face lower league opposition in every round of the competition so far and this occasion saw Carlos Carvalhal return to his former club. It was a huge day for him and he will be slightly disappointed by the performance that he witnessed.

Although the Premier League side selected a talented team, it was an even contest and both teams had chances to score. Neither team deserved to go through on this viewing and they will have to meet again at the Liberty Stadium in just over a week’s time.

It will be interesting to see who will await the winners of this tie in the next round and that could dictate whether Swansea take the replay seriously or not. Here are three talking points from Hillsborough:

Tammy Abraham didn’t take his opportunity

It was a frustrating day for Tammy Abraham as he had few chances to impress in the final third and he was taken off midway in the second half. That will be a disappointment for the forward as this was an opportunity to earn more game-time in the Premier League and his contribution on Saturday is unlikely to bring that.

During the match, he failed to have a single attempt on goal, while his pass success was at a poor 58%. The service he received was non-existent as shown in the second half when Luciano Narsingh refused to play the striker in.

Abraham did nice work to release the winger and spin in behind his marker, but the return ball didn’t arrive. The striker was visibly annoyed that the ball wasn’t given back.

Jordan Ayew was the man that replaced Abraham and he offered more when he was on the pitch. He was willing to drop deep to be given possession, while he got two attempts in on goal during his short time on the pitch.

His distribution was more effective, as displayed by his two key passes. The former Aston Villa man is the player that should lead the line for the relegation-threatened club.

Adam Reach stood out in midfield

This has been a season to forget for Sheffield Wednesday as they are a considerable distance off promotion, despite being one of the best Championship teams in recent seasons.

The match against Swansea provided the players with an opportunity to prove they can compete with Premier League opposition and Adam Reach was one of the standout performers.

The 25-year-old showed glimpses of both attacking and defensive quality, which shows he can contribute in both halves of the pitch. He will be the first to admit his final ball could have been better, but he regularly got in positions to cause problems for the away side. During the match, he attempted three shots and completed 86% of his passes.

Meanwhile, he worked hard out of possession and didn’t allow Swansea to dominate the midfield battle. Reach won four tackles and made a further two interceptions. He was relentless in work rate and his energy rubbed off on the rest of the team. The midfielder will be a player to keep an eye on in the replay.

Alfie Mawson had to miss the match through injury

The Swansea City defender was pencilled in to start in the match, but he was injured in the warm up and had to be replaced in the starting eleven by Kyle Naughton.

This was a major blow for the team as Mawson is a born leader at the back and offers composure to the back-line. He was later pictured wearing a knee brace and holding crutches, in what was a worrying sight.

The last thing Swansea need is a serious injury, especially to one of the team’s most important players. Towards the end of the game, the cameras showed that he was moving his leg more freely, but it is a concern nonetheless.

Naughton came in and did well, with one excellent challenge saving a goal in the first-half. The entire Swansea defence played well, with Kyle Bartley standing out as a Premier League centre-half.

The former Leeds United loanee won five aerial duels and made four ball recoveries. He could be required to step up if Mawson has to miss some of the run-in.

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English Premier League

Swansea City 0-2 Tottenham – Three talking points from the Liberty Stadium

Jake Jackman




Tottenham made it three successive Premier League wins in a row as they overcame a determined Swansea City team on Tuesday night. They made the decision to rest Harry Kane as the striker had been suffering with a cold and it was his replacement that opened the lead. Fernando Llorente hasn’t been given many chances, but he showed his worth with a goal against his former club. There was a hint of offside about it, but it was a good finish.

The home side were much better in the second half and did cause Tottenham problems. Luciano Narsingh looked good after coming on and Jordan Ayew grew into the game. However, they couldn’t fashion a clear-cut opportunity and they left gaps at the back to let Dele Alli put the result beyond doubt in the dying minutes. Swansea can take heart from the performance, but other results didn’t go their way and they are left deeper in the mire. Here are three talking points from the Liberty Stadium:

Dele Alli is returning to his best

It was a slow start to the season for Dele Alli as he failed to live up to his high standards from the previous two seasons. The 21-year-old is still young and was always likely to go through a rough patch of form at some point. It is impressive that he is now coming out of the other side and looks to have learned a lot from his struggles.

The England international will have his sights firmly on the World Cup and he looked motivated to do well in South Wales. His movement was excellent as he regularly found pockets of space in a packed Swansea half. During the match, he looked determined to find the back of the net, as shown by his five attempts on goal. His persistence was finally rewarded as he got his goal late on to clinch the three points. Alli now has two goals and three assists in his last three Premier League matches.

Renato Sanches is improving

The young wonderkid on Swansea City’s team showed signs of improvement as well. Renato Sanches has been much maligned since making the loan move to South Wales, but the change of manager could be what he needed to release his potential. Against Tottenham, he looked much more confident on the ball and was showing the high level of work rate that is needed in the Premier League. Carlos Carvalhal used him as part of a three-man midfield and he was certainly the pick of the bunch.

Sanches showed his ability on the ball, as he completed three dribbles and made two key passes, to improve the attacking threat of the home side. There were times when he made the wrong decision on the ball, but this was one of his most encouraging performances in the Premier League. However, it will be his work rate that will have pleased his new manager, as he won three tackles during the match. He has a long way to go, but his career is moving back on track and Swansea fans could be set for an exciting second half of the season.

The return of Victor Wanyama

Tottenham received a huge boost that may go unnoticed by many, but Victor Wanyama came off the bench against Swansea. The Kenyan international has been missing since August and he has been a major loss for Spurs, as they don’t have another midfielder that can carry out the job that the 26-year-old can. He is excellent at winning the ball back and adds tenacity to the midfield.

It was a rusty performance from Wanyama, but that is to be expected as he tries to build up his match fitness. He completed both of his attempted tackles and ended the game with a pass success rate of 91%. It is good that he is now returning from injury, as he will be able to readjust to Premier League football and be fully fit for the Champions League tie against Juventus. He will be crucial in that tie and it is positive that he is now returning from injury.

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English Premier League

Is Carlos Carvalhal the right appointment for Swansea City?

Jake Jackman




Swansea City appointed Carlos Carvalhal as their new manager earlier this week in a move that surprised many, as it happened just days after he was sacked by Championship club Sheffield Wednesday. Leon Britton had been in temporary charge of the Swans, but he was never likely to secure the job on a full-time basis. The Welsh club are currently rooted to the bottom of the Premier League and their new manager will have a huge task to keep them in the top-flight.

Carvalhal joins on an initial contract to the end of the season with an option of an extension. This raises questions as to Swansea’s motivations of appointing the Portuguese manager. He doesn’t have any Premier League experience, which makes him an odd choice if the club’s aims are to remain in the division. If they were giving the job to him with the aim of staying up, but were prepared to keep him regardless of their fate this season, it would make sense. He would be the perfect man to lead the club after relegation due to his recent success in the Championship.

It could be that Swansea don’t want them to tie themselves up with a manager longer than six months due to their uncertain future. That would make sense, but it sends the wrong message to the dressing room as they are already hedging their bets with their new manager. Carvalhal’s stock has been hurt by his failure this season, as he left Sheffield Wednesday in 15th position after back-to-back play-off campaigns. That could be part of the reason for the contract, but the Portuguese manager has a wealth of experience and is a good appointment.

The new Swansea City manager has had a long and varied journey to the Premier League. He has managed 16 clubs before taking over at the Liberty Stadium and that wealth of experience will stand him in good stead to attempt his biggest challenge yet. Notable former clubs include Braga, Sporting Lisbon, Besiktas and Istanbul BB. Although he hasn’t managed in the Premier League, he has managed at big clubs and for that reason, it isn’t as big of a risk as many think it is.

During the start of his managerial career, he was very much a journeyman and he didn’t stay in jobs very long. He had 15 jobs in 14 years before taking over at Sheffield Wednesday and although he didn’t win many major trophies, there were some notable achievements. Carvalhal took third-tier Leixoes to the UEFA Cup after finishing runner-up in the Taca de Portugal. He later won the Taca da Liga with Vitoria Setubal and it was these accomplishments that saw him move up the coaching ladder.

Interestingly, he took nearly three years out of the game after leaving Istanbul BB and it looked like he could fade away from top-tier management. Then, Sheffield Wednesday came calling and gave him a great opportunity to enhance his reputation in England. Foreign managers aim to manage in the Premier League and in the current game, a stint in the Championship is useful in achieving that. Carvalhal is a great example of that and BBC Sport report quotes that suggest he believes he belongs at the highest level:

“I believe that me and my staff, our place is in the Premier League. It may be my first time in the Premier League, but I was working at Sporting, with Besiktas and I played with Braga in the Europa League.

“I am a coach that if you saw my profile I will change the club, you will see that.”

The Portuguese manager clearly believes that he has done his apprenticeship in this country and deserves a Premier League job. These comments display self-belief and that will go a long way in winning the dressing room over. During his time at Sheffield Wednesday, he developed a good team spirit and a style that suited the big games. Last season, his side did the double over Newcastle United, the team that would go on to win the division.

It was in the matches against the bottom-half teams that Wednesday struggled. In the Premier League, there are no ‘easy’ matches and that could suit Carvalhal. He will rarely be trying to break down a team determined to sit deep and it could be that a step up to manage a relegation-threatened team will suit him.

That said, his Wednesday team often played a physical style and it will be difficult to replicate with his new club. Carvalhal would set up in a 4-4-2 and look to focus the majority of attacks down the flanks. Fernando Forestieri was often the deeper of the front two and the player capable of producing a moment of magic to turn a game on his head. The rest of the team were functional and hard-working, with the flair being produced by the Argentine and the two wingers. In the Championship, it worked well. However, he won’t be able to do the same with Swansea City.

The Swans have a squad that doesn’t suit any one style of football. They have moved away from the possession-based style that saw them become so popular when they first arrived in the Premier League, but they haven’t got the players to thrive in the system Carvalhal used at Sheffield Wednesday. Their midfielders are too lightweight and their wingers don’t create enough for the strikers. Furthermore, they lack a creative spark like Forestieri to link the midfield and attack.

This is going to be an interesting period for Swansea City and Carvalhal. It is a risk to appoint a manager that has just been sacked by a Championship club, but the Portuguese manager has shown enough during his career to suggest he could do well in South Wales. He will need to find a new way of playing and it will be fascinating to see how he sets his team up. Many expect the Swans to be relegated and that means that the new manager has nothing to lose. This is a great opportunity for him and it is now up to him to prove he can cut it at the highest level.

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