Swans can be serene again at Wembley

Monday 18th February 2013 22:38

Swansea: Off to Wembley on Sunday

Swansea: Off to Wembley on Sunday

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FanZone's Swansea blogger Sion Cleaver shrugs off Sunday's Anfield annihilation ahead of one of the biggest matches in the club's history.

Fans, players and managers of all teams would be disheartened after being on the receiving end of a five-goal drubbing at a club that, arguably, are on the same level as them.

It may however, be slightly different for Swansea, after a disheartening 5-0 loss to Liverpool on Sunday.

A single goal separated both teams at the half-time mark, but three goals in 10 minutes after the restart saw the start of a tyrannous dissection of a Swansea team that are known for their slick-passing, Barcelona-esque style of play - especially when playing against teams of a larger magnitude.

Swansea's 5-0 defeat at Anfield was an embarrassing one, yes, but definitely not a shock to the system. The Swans' flagship players in Michu, Ashley Williams and Nathan Dyer were absent from the clash, with Michael Laudrup making seven changes from his side's last Premier League outing in preparation for Sunday's mammoth League Cup final clash against Bradford at Wembley.

The Premier League encounter did not matter as much to Laudrup. After all, relegation is near enough impossible at this point of the season, with the Swans already on the way to battling for a Europa League position come the end of their top-flight campaign. Three points dropped is never a good thing, but considering they have not won domestic silverware since the Football League Trophy in 2006 - their second trophy, alongside the Welsh Cup - Swansea's absent-minded nature could be excused.

A sizable contribution to Liverpool's rampant thumping of the Welsh club is the Swans' midweek trek to the Middle East, in the form of a warm-weather training camp in Dubai, UAE.

The entire first-team squad made the trip to the Arabian Peninsula in an attempt to boost the club's training and tactical skills in preparation for not only a tough League Cup final encounter this coming weekend, but also for a potentially monumental run-in to the season's end.

Along with jet-lag and the fact that training would have been limited for parts of the trip (when travelling, making appearances etc), then Swansea's mediocre return to the UK is not surprising. Especially when you compare the tropical, humid conditions of the United Arab Emirates to Merseyside's mid-February cold.

Now I'm not making excuses for Laudrup's men, because after all, the sign of a good team is to produce results even when having a shocker, but to think some sources have already started predicting a Bradford win come Sunday's final is bordering on ludicrous.

Sunday's defeat at Anfield displayed a number of key areas that Swansea show weakness when fatigue sets in. Their sudden return from warm-weather training has highlighted this. Relative newcomers to the Swansea first-team were prime examples - Itay Shechter's work-rate up front was bordering on abysmal at times, with the Israel international off-loading the ball almost immediately after gaining control of it in the first place.

Youngster Ben Davies was equally as guilty, his usual momentum on the wing was not present, instead replaced by a constant need to crack a long ball to safety when faced with immediate defensive danger.

Laudrup will have an entire week to whip his side into shape in preparation for their trip over the border to Wembley. The Swans' defensive formation is undoubtedly set to receive a touch-up but their midfield players' constant lack of ball retention also needs to be addressed if a first trophy in seven years is to be lifted on Sunday.

By Sion Cleaver, FanZone's Swansea City blogger. Follow him on Twitter at @SionCleaver - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too!

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