Swansea City started using the diamond system at Stoke City, which resulted in the away side going down 2-0 not long after half time. Jefferson Montero then entered the fray, the Swans switched to a formation with wingers and clawed back to a 2-2 draw.
There are a lot of options in play for Francesco Guidolin ahead of this game against a side in remarkable form since Guus Hiddink’s appointment.
More diamonds than Carmela Soprano on her birthday
At this point, Guidolin seems invested in the diamond formation. Originally it was thought he would only use it against tougher teams in order to bolster the midfield, but then he used it at home to Aston Villa.
Swansea’s greatest strength is their wide talent, so it seems incredulous that Guidolin would persevere with a system that excludes those players.
He could well be building towards next season, and is trying to embed these players in his preferred system. He could then sign players in the summer to fit his ethos, and the team will look much better and playing this system right now pays off.
Guidolin isn’t guaranteed to return for next season though, so right now everything is a bit confusing.
Defence needing to bounce back
Lukasz Fabianski: Conceded twice against Stoke, but there wasn’t anything he could do about the first goal due to Leroy Fer leaving Ibrahim Afellay free in the six-yard area. The second goal however could see some of the blame put on Lukasz Fabianski because he did get a hand to Bojan Krkic’s shot, but not enough to palm it wide.
Angel Rangel: Fresh off making his 300th appearance in a Swansea shirt, and looks locked as first choice in the right back role despite Kyle Naughton performing fairly well on the opposite flank last week.
Federico Fernandez: Didn’t put in the greatest performance against Stoke, but with Guidolin revealing that Jordi Amat has been struggling with a back injury it would be absurd if Kyle Bartley takes his place in the side.
Ashley Williams: There isn’t a lot more to be said about Ashley Williams at this point. He’s going to be in the side, and he’s likely to be fantastic. Again.
Neil Taylor: There’s more competition for this spot in the side than everyone projected after the January transfer window closes, with Stephen Kingsley coming into the fold and Naughton not being awful against Stoke. The manager did say in his press conference that Neil Taylor was rested because he was on international duty the week before. Guidolin also said that Taylor is the first option, so barring an injury it would be unlikely to see the Welshman not starting this game.
Do we really have to watch this midfield?
Leroy Fer: Last week I said that Fer needed to add consistency in order to earn himself a permanent deal, and he didn’t do himself any favours against Stoke by leaving Afellay free for the opening goal. Guidolin will be furious about that goal.
Jack Cork: With Leon Britton unlikely to be fit enough for this game, Jack Cork will probably return to this role as the deepest midfielder. It’s not the position he has been used a lot during his time in South Wales, but no one wants to see either Fer or Ki Sung-Yeung in that spot.
Ki Sung-Yeung: Injuries have forced this change, and considering Ki’s performances all season have been dire it wouldn’t be a huge shock if Jay Fulton was brought into the side. If only Matt Grimes wasn’t on loan at Blackburn. This midfield trio looks horrible on paper, and will more than likely look even worse on the field. This is where the money needs to be spent in the summer.
Forward line not looking terrible for once
Gylfi Sigurdsson: Scored once again last week, the man is simply on fire and right now is one of the first names on the team sheet.
Andre Ayew: Almost made the cut against Stoke but didn’t pass the fitness test, now Guidolin says he is raring to go. It’s been a while since Andre Ayew laced up for Swansea and it’ll be great for them to have him back.
Alberto Paloschi: It doesn’t seem fair to leave Jefferson Montero, Modou Barrow and Wayne Routledge all on the bench, but it’s also really difficult to fit them in, especially in a winger-less system. Alberto Paloschi looked great after being subbed on for Bafetimbi Gomis, causing all sorts of problems and scoring the equalising goal. He really should start, even though Guidolin said that Swansea fans will see the best of the Italian next season.