City boss Chris Hughton is under few illusions as to the test that awaits at the far end of the M4 this weekend.
Indeed the Canary chief went so far as to suggest that Michael Laudrup’s Swans are playing ‘as well as anybody’ in the Premier League after playing Arsenal off the park in last weekend’s 2-0 win at The Emirates.
Watch the game again and that was no ‘Smash and grab!’ raid. Swansea dominated possession and out-played Arsenal at their own game – pass and move, pass and move, pass and move.
And, of course, in the Spaniard Michu have one of the star turns of the season at the sharp end of the team. His two finishes against the Gunners were straight out of the very top drawer. Sebastien Bassong and Co will need to be on their toes at the Liberty if Norwich are to extend their own, magnificent run of form to a ninth league game.
“I’ve been very impressed with Swansea, not only because of the run they’re on, but also the style of football that they’re playing,” Hughton told the club’s official website ahead of this weekend’s ling haul west.
Given that Hughton was born and bred on a diet of playing football the Tottenham way, it is no surprise to find him being an admirer as Laudrup carries on in the same vein as Brendan Rodgers – pass and move, pass and move, pass and move.
The arrival of the great Dane at the helm as an added another dimension to events in South Wales – namely his insider knowledge of the Spanish transfer market. Handy when 99% of Spanish footballers can pass and move all day long.
“I thought they were very good last season, but they’ve added a bit and brought in players that have done very well in the team,” added Hughton, as both clubs look to cement themselves in that mid-table pack going into the festive period.
“The manager has used his experience in the Spanish market, he knows the players very well, and they’ve all hit the ground running – in particular Michu, who is scoring goals at a very good rate.”
City are spreading the goals around the team this season; skipper Grant Holt would dearly love to be matching Michu strike for strike after his 17-goal haul last season. But right now the team is coming first as he ploughs that deep furrow alone up top.
It should, nevertheless, still be an open and attacking game tomorrow. In Robert Snodgrass and Anthony Pilkington, Norwich have two wingers that like to get the ball to feet and attack from either flank. Both also due their defensive duties well ensuring the Canaries keep a tight shape at all times.
Swansea will have to work hard for their prize given the confidence and belief now flowing through their visitors to the Liberty this weekend.
“Swansea are playing an exciting brand of football, and are probably playing as well as anybody in this division,” said Hughton, well aware that if City can keep Michu at arm’s length and hit their hosts on the break…
“With each game comes a team threat and an individual threat. We must make sure we’re as resilient as possible, but also that we have a threat ourselves,” he said.