International recognition hints at Swansea top six finish at 8/1
Swansea City have reason to celebrate, as impressive international pair Gylfi Sigurdsson and Ashley Williams have made UEFA’s official selection all-star XI from Euro 2016 qualifying.
— Swansea City AFC (@SwansOfficial) October 14, 2015
What makes this recognition even more rewarding, it that the lauded duo made the final cut alongside some of Europe’s most elite heavyweights, including superstars from the likes of Bayern Munich (Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski) and Real Madrid (Gareth Bale).
So, with the Welsh club boasting internationals able to be considered some of Europe’s best performers, can Swansea be spurred on to finish in a top six Premier League spot and capture continental football themselves?
Coral have Garry Monk’s men priced-up at an enticing 8/1 to do just that, and it may prove wise of punters to pounce before those odds shorten.
The Swans did, after all, end in eighth position last term, just four points astray of European football. Striving to improve season upon season since gaining top-flight promotion in 2011, the Liberty Stadium side smashed club records under the guidance of former centre back Monk, recording their highest-ever Premier League finish and points tally.
Backing the Welsh outfit to improve again, then, appears a no-brainer, especially a several of the Swans’ stars have not yet reached their ceiling. Monk managed to cling on to captain Williams in the summer, despite reported interest from Crystal Palace and the skipper looks settled at the Liberty.
Becoming ever-more influential and dominant at the heart of Wales’ defence, helping the Dragons defence to clean sheets galore, Williams may be a late-bloomer yet is nonetheless approaching his peak.
Midfield schemer Sigurdsson, meanwhile, has similarly been the heartbeat of another surprise Euro qualifying package in Iceland, and leads scoring in the Nordic nation’s group. Still settling into the Premier League campaign, Swans supporters will be eagerly awaiting the midfield threat’s surely impending purple patch at club level.
Also contributing to possession play in the centre half, are crafty deep-lying partners in crime, South Korea skipper Ki Sung-Yueng and recent England re-call Jonjo Shelvey.
Shelvey in particular seems to thrive under increased recognition and has been one of the most impressive Englishmen so far this campaign. Wing wizard Jefferson Montero is another attack-minded talent, who provides bursts of creativity from the flanks.
So, we’ve established that Swansea are blessed with players who have an eye for defence-splitting passes, but what about the final product?
Unlike last term when, until the January sales, the Swans were over-reliant on striker Wilfried Bony, there are now an abundance of players able to turn a game.
Andre Ayew and Bafetimbi Gomis, both brought to the club on Bosmans as superb bits of business, have defied expectations this season. Having hit eight of their side’s 10 league goals between them, few surrounding teams can match such firepower.
Having had a slight wobble in the standings recently, Swansea saw an upsurge in from last time out against top six rivals Tottenham, where they nabbed a draw and will be eager to pick up where they left off against Stoke City.
This season has shown no slowing of Monk’s ability to inspire his underdogs against bigger teams either, with exceptional results already notched against favoured opponents Manchester United, for whom the Swans frequently prove a banana skin, and Chelsea.
With a run of winnable games, including clashes against Aston Villa, Norwich City and Bournemouth ahead, should the Swans hit to speed there could be no stopping their own all-star XI from making a top six challenge.