It may be early days, but two games into the Premier League’s 21st season, Swansea sit rock bottom of the standings with no points on the scoreboard and -4 goals to their name.
Admittedly, Laudrup’s men were faced with an uphill battle from the start in the form of a home defeat to a Manchester United and an away defeat at Tottenham.
Those ties are enough to worry any a top-flight side, but considering Swansea’s prior with teams of a similar calibre last campaign (comfortable victories over Arsenal and Chelsea immediately come to mind), then it might be right to bring up the argument that perhaps the Swans’ Europa League commitments are already proving to be a negative influence on the Welsh club’s domestic outings.
Swansea, as of their second leg clash at Petrolul Ploieºti, are already four games into their European season. They may have comfortably breezed past Swedish outfit Malmo and are already leading their Romanian counterparts 5-1 after a dominant first leg performance at the Liberty Stadium but it could be that their late night shenanigans across Europe will eventually put a damper on a Swansea side that have been enjoying life in England’s top-flight since their arrival two seasons ago.
Now something that Laudrup will need to bring into play as their season progresses is depth in numbers. It may be all well and good having a top striker like Michu or a seasoned veteran like Ashley Williams in defence, but they can’t possibly play every game when you’re playing two games a week thanks to Premier League, FA Cup, Europa League and League Cup commitments.
Ki Sung-Yueng was brought in for this very reason a year ago, he may only start on the bench for most games but when it comes down to the nitty gritty of playing Norwich or Crystal Palace just two days after a glamorous European night, then Ki is your man.
It’s players like Ki, Leon Britton and Nathan Dyer that provide Swansea with a crucial backbone, they are the fall back for when times get a little tough and strength and reliability is needed.
New signing Jonjo Shelvey is exactly that kind of player too, and after his starts for all Swansea’s European outings so far as well as their first two Premier League matches of the campaign, it looks like he’s going to be the glue that will hold Swansea together this season.
His performance over Petrolul Ploieºti last time out was proof of this. Shelvey rarely broke through the Romanian defence with an on goal effort but he was a constant feature in the run up to all five of Swansea’s goals that night.
Be distribution from the wing or lumping in crosses from the center, Shelvey provided a constant flow of traffic for the away defence, and made Michu’s job up front very easy at times.
Now considering Swansea have a backbone in form of a core group of non fanciful yet talented players, Laudrup’s men look all set to tackle an unrelenting campaign of over 60 matches domestically and in Europe this season, but the questions still remains of whether they can handle it in the long run.