The Swans are back in 2nd place in the Championship table after they recorded back to back league victories at the Liberty Stadium for the first time since August 2019. Ben Cabango and Andre Ayew were the two players on target in another very strong and comprehensive Swans win.
Steve Cooper sprung a selection surprise prior to kick off with captain Matt Grimes dropping to the bench for the first time in almost 100 league games. His place in midfield was given to Korey Smith who lined up alongside Jay Fulton and Yan Dhanda in the centre. Two more changes were also made from the side that started against Stoke – Ben Cabango came back in for Ryan Bennett whilst Jake Bidwell was in for Manning.
Blackburn arrived at the Liberty as the leading scorers in the division and always looked more than capable of presenting a threat to the Swans defence but for the large part of the first half the chances were no better than half ones with Freddie Woodman really only called upon once to save the Swans and that was after some sloppy play from Naughton gave a chance to Armstrong.
With Grimes missing the Swans varied the corner taking much more than is the norm and it was from one of those that the opening goal of the game arrived. Roberts sent in the corner from the right hand side and it was the powering header of Cabango that gave the keeper no chance and gave the Swans the lead into the bargain.
If Blackburn always looked capable of causing the Swans issues, then the same could have been said of the Swans as far as the visitors were concerned. If we were missing Grimes then it wasn’t showing as the Swans game continued on the good tempo that we saw in midweek and we were excellent value for our lead.
We could – and probably should – have had a penalty just before the interval when Roberts appeared to be fouled in the area but for some unknown reason the referee waved play on much to the amazement of most people watching the game.
Blackburn started the second half with some purpose and a couple more half chances were well dealt with by Woodman and Mowbray waited until around the hour mark to make a double substitute with a view of changing the game. And it had the desired effect in changing the game but not in the way that the Blackburn manager hoped as just a minute later the Swans had doubled their advantage.
Some more neat football in midfield saw Roberts set Dhanda away on the right in space and his cross was inch perfect to be met by the attacking run of Ayew who headed in the Swans second. This is a goal worth watching back time and time again as it shows all that is good about Swansea City and sums up the week that we have had at the Liberty.
In a different position to recent weeks as well, the Swans did not sit back on their advantage and Lowe’s last part of the game was a half chance which was blocked by the defender before the Swansea front man was replaced by Gyokeres for the last 25 minutes of the game.
Despite our recent run of games, the Swans were full of energy and Roberts and Dhanda combined again with Ayew to create a half chance for the substitute Gyokeres but he could get nothing on the shot and the danger had passed for Blackburn.
You could see the confidence running through our team at this point with the passing being neat and accurate and players moving for space which is something that a Steve Cooper side has often been criticised of not doing. And in a similar vein we were attacking more and more and looking a threat every time we had the ball. When we didn’t have it we were pressing high up the pitch and it was clear at this point – even with 20 minutes remaining – that this was the afternoon we were going to complete that run of back to back home wins for the first time in over a year.
Palmer was introduced with 15 minutes to go for the excellent Dhanda and he almost scored with his first touch with a good shot from outside the area that was blocked.
Blackburn looked to try and move forward in the last ten minutes in search of a goal that they hoped would ignite the game for them but the Swans defence was standing firm at all times. As the game progressed towards the four minutes of injury time added at the end there was a complete air of inevitability about the result with Swansea comfortable and gently probing for the chance of a third while Blackburn knew their game was run.
The Liberty double header therefore produced the desired six points and both wins could have been by more comprehensive margins which has to give us even more confidence. Cooper has shuffled his pack in the last week and dealt strong hands both times and for that he should take all the credit that he is due as should the full depth of his squad.
For Steve Cooper the week could not have gone much better. Two home wins, two clean sheets and his side now second in the table. The next seven days will not shape our season but away trips to Brentford and Norwich will not be easy and a definite test of our promotion credentials. At least we go into both games with confidence as high as it possibly can be.
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