On December 31 Swansea City was in 20th place. The Welsh club had just lost four on the trot and looked a sure bet to go down. Not two months later the club vaulted themselves up to 15th, four points clear of the drop. Their position is thanks in large part to today’s 2-0 win over struggling Leicester City.
Swansea came into today’s match winners in three of their last five. Leicester City meanwhile hasn’t won a league match since 2016. The Foxes haven’t scored a Premier League goal in that time either. With a trip to Chelsea awaiting, Swansea needed to create a buffer between them and the bottom three.
Both sides started out cautious. Neither team registered a shot on target for the first 25 minutes of play. The most notable event in the early moments was when Nathan Dyer needed to be replaced due to injury only six minutes in.
However, Swansea soon settled into the game and started troubling the Leicester goal. Kasper Schmeichel managed a few saves to keep his side in the game. However, Schmeichel was unable to stop a blistering shot from Alfie Mawson in the 37th minute. The 23-year-old found himself unmarked near the penalty spot when Federico Fernandez headed a ball into the center. Mawson, with his first touch, volleyed the ball straight into the back of the net.
By this time the tide had turned and Swansea looked the better side throughout. Ten minutes after opening the scoring, the hosts doubled their advantage. A brilliant one-touch pass from Gylfi Sigurdsson sent Matin Olsson on a quick break and the Swede made no mistake. Schmeichel will want this goal back as Olsson’s shot seemingly went straight through the Leicester keeper.
Swansea took their lead into halftime and looked headed for their fourth win since Paul Clement took over from Bob Bradley in January. Since taking over in Wales, Clement has Swansea looking like an entirely different squad.
The second half showed a comfortable Swansea side hoping to just see out proceedings. Leicester City had created almost nothing for the entire 90 minutes. The club’s best chance came in the second half when Islam Slimani went one on one with Lukasz Fabianski. The Polish keeper denied the Algerian, and that was about the extent of Leicester’s attack. With their failure to score again, the Foxes become the first defending champion to go six league games without a goal since Liverpool 110 years ago.
After Slimani’s chance, the game died out and Swansea was able to get the victory with a relatively quiet second half.
Swansea and Leicester are currently trending in opposite directions. While much of the talk will be about Leicester’s struggles, Swansea deserves plenty of credit. Clement came into a dysfunctional team that looked set to be relegated. In a remarkably short amount of time, the former Bayern and Real Madrid assistant has turned Swansea into a quality side. They’ll be tested in their next match against Chelsea, but given the form of many of their rivals, Swansea is looking ever more comfortable.
Leicester City, meanwhile, will limp into games against Liverpool, Arsenal and Hull City. The next few weeks will be critical for last season’s champions.