Swansea City started their season with a 1-0 win over newly-promoted Burnley on Saturday.
Since his appointment as manager in mid-January, Francesco Guidolin has reversed a slump in Swansea results and performances. Their escape from relegation several weeks before the end of the season looked unlikely given the team were only two points above the relegation places when the former Udinese boss took over.
With that in mind, Guidolin was in positive mood ahead of the season and hopeful that he would be able to replicate his Udinese efforts and steer Swansea to a top-ten finish. This result will go some way to boosting that mood.
Whilst many will point to the fact that Swansea were “only” playing a promoted team, one can point to how Leicester fell to an unexpected defeat at Hull City as evidence that victory cannot be taken for granted. Particularly against a side keen to impress on their return to the Premier League.
Guidolin and his players could have been forgiven for being distracted in the build-up to this fixture after a significant amount of transfer activity over the past seven days. The departures of club captain, Ashley Williams to Everton, and of Andre Ayew to West Ham United, deprived Guidolin of two of last year’s most regular starters.
On top of that, the club has signed the Atletico Madrid striker Borja Baston for £15.5million, and Guidolin will hope that Baston and former Juventus frontman, Fernando Llorente, compliment each other leading the Swans’ attack.
The first-half of this game was fairly even, with both sides having several chances that they should probably have done better with. Llorente in particular was somewhat tame with a couple of finishes which he would likely have finished several years ago when in the colours of Atletico Madrid.
They say that coaches earn their money by their in-game management, and it was the introduction of Jefferson Montero and Gylfi Sigurdsson in the second-half that swung the momentum towards Swansea. The former had a crucial part in the Swansea goal, delivering an inch-perfect cross for Llorente which the Burnley ‘keeper, Tom Heaton, could only palm into the path of the on-rushing Leroy Fer.
The goal was enough to secure victory for Guidolin’s team, although they were indebted to a late save from Luis Fabianski for the three points, as the Poland international tipped over a deflected shot in the last minute.
One suspects that Swansea’s transfer activity is not yet over, with a defensive replacement for Williams high on Guidolin’s wish list before next week’s home game against Hull.