South Wales Evening Post journalist Mat Davies gives us the lowdown on Swansea City, ahead of Southampton's visit in the Premier League.
How would you describe the season so far for Swansea?
Swansea’s campaign to date has been incredibly disappointing – but with the arrival of Paul Clement there seems to be some shoots of positivity. After false starts under Francesco Guidolin and Bob Bradley, Clement seems to have brought a degree of authority and control to the group. The gritty win at Selhurst Park and the shock victory at Anfield has given the club a massive lift. Out of the bottom three and playing some football once again, there is a certain degree of optimism around the place. But there is still a long way to go and some tough games ahead.
What difference has the arrival of Paul Clement had?
He seems to have had a massive impact. Under Guidolin and Bradley, the club lacked direction and were leaking goals at an alarming rate, especially under the American. He has had ten full days with the team since the win over Liverpool. That time on the training ground will have been invaluable. He hasn’t tinkered with the side too much – a criticism levelled at his predecessors – and has placed faith in Federico Fernandez and Alfie Mawson as his first-choice centre-back pairing.
What sort of a style of play and system does Clement like to use?
It's a bit too early to say, really. They are solid, compact without the ball, and are certainly trying to be a bit more expansive in possession. Against Arsenal, they harried and pressed well for about 40 minutes, but ran out of steam. Clement himself said the players needed to be fitter to play his style of football – and he was right. Against Liverpool they were more efficient in and out of possession – a classic away performance. If he can sort out the leaky defence, it will go a long way to preserving Swansea’s top-flight status.
Has the win over Liverpool last week changed the mood?
Massively. Not just for the club, but around the city, too. It was the manner of victory, more than anything. To take a commanding lead, to lose it, but then fight back to claim all three points will have a big impact going forward. Swansea have a tough run of fixtures coming up – aren’t they all? – but a victory at Anfield, where they have never won before in the league, will have given them a huge boost.
Who have been Swansea’s best players lately, and who would you say will be the key for them on Tuesday?
Brace hero Fernando Llorente has been very good, as well as star man Gylfi Sigurdsson. The two are developing a decent understanding between each other. Again, it is very early days, but the two new signings, Tom Carroll and Martin Olsson, made positive impressions at Anfield and Swans fans will hope that is a sign of things to come. The way Carroll glided past players was good to see. He offers a degree of dynamism in the centre of the park that has been missing.