Swans teeter as Cherries stay safe
IF Swansea City are to survive this season of highs and lows, they are going to have to do it the hard way. Ryan Fraser’s first-half strike was enough to inflict a third successive defeat on Carlos Carvalhal’s side, who have lost form just when it matters most. From a position of relative security a few weeks ago, they are now in serious danger of slipping through the trapdoor.
At least their manager, who cut a frustrated figure at the full-time whistle, can console himself with the fact that — with home fixtures against Stoke and Southampton to come — Swansea’s fate remains in their own hands.
Yet on this evidence, after a seventh match in a row without victory, they could be on borrowed time.
Given that his side had failed to win on the road since the victory over Watford in his first match after replacing Paul Clement at the end of December, it was no surprise to see Carvalhal opt for a safety-first approach to his starting line-up.
Federico Fernandez was back at the heart of a three-man defence, with Nathan Dyer and Tom Carroll also recalled after the defeat to Chelsea last week.
With their Premier League status for another season virtually confirmed even before kick-off, despite Eddie Howe’s protestations to the contrary, there was a carnival atmosphere for Bournemouth’s last home game of the campaign, on a beautiful day on the south coast.
The home manager made two changes, with Andrew Surman partnering England hopeful Lewis Cook in midfield, as he attempted to halt a run of three straight defeats.
Bournemouth’s intent was clear from the start and they almost took the lead inside the first 90 seconds when Fernandez did well to deny Callum Wilson a clear-cut chance. Mike van der Hoorn should then have put Swansea ahead in the 12th minute after an excellent free-kick routine, but Asmir Begovic was there to deny him.
Wilson was the next to waste an opportunity after a delightful ball across goal from Fraser, but, prompted by Cook’s industry, Bournemouth continued to dominate proceedings.
Yet Swansea, and Alfie Mawson in particular, were the architects of their own downfall when they fell behind eight minutes before half-time.
A moment’s hesitation from the defender — another potential inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad — allowed Wilson to nip in front of him and Mawson was lucky that the referee, Kevin Friend, did not point to the spot after he brought down his opponent just inside the box.
He was the first to react to Bournemouth’s quickly taken free-kick, but could only divert Fraser’s shot past a helpless Lukasz Fabianski with his head.