Saturday, September 19, 2020
Good point in south Wales, the kind you would have settled for beforehand, as Blues held a talented Swansea side to a goalless draw.
Like Brentford last week, Swansea are the kind of side you expect to be challenging this season. So to go undefeated can be considered a good start to the season. For it to be truly that we have to overcome the perennial banana skin, the weaker team at home in the form of Rotherham next week. If we can put them away, it really will have been a good start.
We now almost expect the team to be resilient and well organised, what we were hoping for from a seasoned professional like Karanka, and Blues again displayed those qualities at the Liberty, with his go-to guys, Friend and Clayton, taking control. It’s a long time since we’ve had a player like Clayton who can control a game, probably since the Barry Ferguson played for us.
Like last week, Blues had to weather a bit of a storm at the start of the game, to be expected at places like Swansea, before coming into the game and ending the first half as the better side. Toral forced Woodman into the best save of the half, in comparison with Etheridge who only had to field one weak free kick in the opening period – his best would be left until late in the game.
Again, like last week, the second half was more of a backs against the wall job, the wide men again faded as an attacking threat. You would hope that this problem would be eradicated with Sanchez as he becomes more used the pace of the English game. But with Bela, it’s more of an ongoing problem which also causes difficulties for Pedersen as his lack of energy and inability to hold the ball up left the Danish full-back exposed on numerous times.
And when we were able to break on Swansea, more so in the first half than second, some bad decision making in the final third and a couple of players being off the pace physically, led to good positions being squandered.
Our more than deserved point was almost lost a couple of minutes from the end and only preserved by an excellent reaction save from Etheridge from Guerti’s close range header after the ball had bobbled around the box. Good goalkeepers save you points as well as goals and that’s the first for Etheridge.
Other notables were Jukey again showing how there’s a role for him in a Karanka team, the renewed enthusiasm of Sunjic, although he does need to be more progressive with his passing when he gets the ball back, and Colin settling back into to being what we know he is – the best full back in the division.
A good point, the makings of a good start, but still plenty to improve upon. Nevertheless, optimism is reigning at St Andrew’s at the moment, and it’s been a while since we could say that.
Swansea 1 – Blues 0