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“We have to admit it is a difficult moment for us. In the league we haven’t won for quite some time.”

Those were the words of Swansea manager Michael Laudrup as he reflected on yet another defeat for his side against Tottenham Hotspur.

Are Swansea City relegation candidates?That period of time without a win stretches back to early December, when they convincingly beat an in-form Newcastle United 3-0 at the Liberty Stadium.

Since then, Swansea City have come up against five of the current top seven and lost on every single occasion. Whilst picking up three draws against direct relegation rivals in Hull, Norwich and Aston Villa. That three point return from a possible 24 has seen the Welsh side plummet from being one point off 10th place, to three points off the drop.

Injuries

Managers will gather little sympathy when despairing over injuries but Laudrup has been particularly deprived of key attacking options throughout the season. Last season’s top goal-scorer Michu, has been absent for the past six league games after undergoing an ankle operation and could be out until mid February.

Pablo Hernandez is another who has missed a large part of the Swans’ campaign, who along with Michu has been unavailable for selection in 10 out of 22 Premier League games. His injury problems come with particular regret after notching a goal and two assists in the opening three games.

Nathan Dyer has also been absent for the past six league games thanks to picking up an injury at Carrow Road, along with teammates Michu and Michel Vorm.

Newcastle United showed that clubs with shallow squads simply cannot compete in Europe without suffering domestically. Swansea’s situation is strikingly similar, as they prepare for knock-out games in both the Europa League and the FA Cup.

The much maligned Europa League has added a further ten games to an already packed calendar for the Swans. Starting as far back as 1 August, Laudrup has had to juggle his squad in the hope they could manage what has been thrown at them. For a club of their size, the results following their European adventures haven’t been disastrous. Two wins and three draws have been claimed in games immediately following Europa League fixtures. That amounts to 36% of the club’s league defeats this campaign.

The club have also lost both games that have followed domestic cup competitions. An impressive win in the third-round of the FA Cup at Old Trafford was followed by a league defeat in the same venue days later. There is no doubt Laudrup would swap that cup win for three league points right now.

Swansea might relish their European adventure but if it comes at the cost of survival it is simply not worth it. In all likelihood, Napoli will knock out Laudrup’s men towards the end of February, leaving them to concentrate on retaining their Premier League status.

Huge next six games

Laudrup knows only too well that his side need to reverse this run of form, otherwise, the Premier League could be shorn of one or even both of its Welsh contingents. “The next six games will decide whether we suffer until the end of the season. The next four, especially, are key games,” said Laudrup.

Those key games that the former Danish international refers to, entail meetings against three of the league’s bottom four – Fulham, West Ham and Cardiff – along with a trip to fellow strugglers Stoke City.

With little to choose from in terms of home or away form, the Swans will need to pick up five points at least before embarking on more challenging fixtures. Given Swansea’s tendency of scoring more freely at home, there should be hope that goal-shy bottom half sides will struggle to out score Laudrup’s men at the Liberty Stadium.

In what has been one of the quietest January transfer windows in recent memory, Laudrup could persuade Chairman Huw Jenkins to break that trait and add to an injury-stricken squad. The area of most obvious concern would be midfield, where the Swans are without six of their most recognised attacking options.

Republic of Ireland winger, Anthony Pilkington, has been linked with a move following his struggles to secure a regular slot in the starting XI at Carrow Road. Tom Ince has also been heavily linked with a move to Wales; however, there have been suggestions that Laudrup is not convinced the tricky play maker is ready for the step-up from the Championship.

It remains to be seen whether Jenkins will reach into his pockets again having spent over £20 million in the summer with little returns for his investment so far.

Enjoying their third consecutive season in England’s top flight, Swansea will hope their recent renaissance is not brought to an abrupt halt. Fans and players will likely be of the opinion that they have too talented a squad to suffer relegation. However, any team that endures the type of run the Swans are currently enduring must realise the seriousness of their predicament.

As Laudrup says, the future of Swansea’s Premier League status will likely be decided within the next three weeks. This Great Dane will be hoping his Swans can fly to safety.

Originally published at fourfourtweet.co.uk

Post written by James Hopper (@JamesHopper10) for FourFourTweet
Blog: fourfourtweet.co.uk, Twitter: @FourFourTweet

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