Bradley set for tough in­tro­duc­tion to EPL

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

MAN­CHES­TER, (AP):

AEng­land

SK PEO­PLE to de­scribe Swansea’s style of play and most would de­tail the free-flow­ing, pos­ses­sion­based ap­proach that has been the hall­mark of teams un­der man­agers such as Roberto Martinez, Bren­dan Rodgers and Michael Lau­drup over the last decade.

Some have even dubbed them “Swanselona” over the years, a ref­er­ence to Swansea’s pass­able im­i­ta­tion of Barcelona’s pre­ferred style.

Bob Bradley has to de­cide if it’s time for a change.

The Amer­i­can coach was hired by Swansea last week, tak­ing charge of a team that has lost five of its last six games in the English Premier League (EPL) un­der the fired Francesco Guidolin and lan­guishes in 17th place.

Bradley ar­rives with a rep­u­ta­tion for pre­fer­ring a more prag­matic, di­rect style of foot­ball, which would be at odds with what Swansea typ­i­cally pro­duces. A shift in ap­proach might just be what the team needs to stay up this sea­son.

The 58-year-old Bradley said in his pre­sen­ta­tion press con­fer­ence that he likes “good, pass­ing foot­ball” and that Swansea has been a team that is “fun to watch,” but it’s not help­ing at the mo­ment. Tak­ing the game to Man­ches­ter City and Liver­pool in the last two rounds, the Swans were brave but ul­ti­mately lost both matches. They haven’t kept a clean sheet since the

open­ing round.

Next up is a trip to third-place Arse­nal to­mor­row, some­thing of a daunt­ing in­tro­duc­tion to the Premier League for Bradley. Tight­en­ing up and be­ing harder to beat might be the name of the game for the new coach.

“When­ever there’s a change at any club, it’s a fresh start for ev­ery­body,” Bradley said yes­ter­day. “You can see that on cer­tain faces, that’s clear. Even at a time in a sea­son when it’s been dif­fi­cult, when there’s been man­age­rial change, you see en­thu­si­asm and a cer­tain amount of ex­cite­ment.

“That doesn’t au­to­mat­i­cally mean be­cause you’ve changed some things, ev­ery­thing’s go­ing to come to­gether right away. But, it’s a start.”

Arse­nal have won their last five games in all com­pe­ti­tions and can be a dev­as­tat­ing force when the team’s sprightly at­tack­ing unit — con­tain­ing the likes of Me­sut Ozil, Santi Ca­zorla, Theo Wal­cott and Alexis Sanchez — is given space to per­form. Sanchez, in par­tic­u­lar, is thriv­ing as a so­called ‘false nine’ up front in the ab­sence of in­jured striker Olivier Giroud.

But Arsene Wenger’s team can strug­gle and get frus­trated when teams sit back and de­fend in num­bers. Bradley, an ex­pe­ri­enced, savvy coach who has watched the Premier League from afar for years, val­ues team­work highly and that will be needed at Emi­rates Sta­dium.

“I be­lieve he is equipped to deal with what is re­quested of him,” Wenger said yes­ter­day, when asked if Bradley would be a suc­cess at Swansea.

Bradley will look to con­tinue Swansea’s good re­cent record against Arse­nal, with three wins in their last five meet­ings — most re­cently a 2-1 win at the Emi­rates in March.

“It is a tough first game (un­der Bradley), but we don’t Arse­nal’s Theo Wal­cott cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing Sta­dium on Septem­ber 24.

mind play­ing that,” Swansea de­fender Neil Tay­lor said. “We would be prob­a­bly writ­ten off even if we were in form.”

MAN­CHES­TER CITY VS EV­ER­TON

It’s a first man­age­rial meet­ing to­mor­row be­tween two dis­ci­ples of Jo­han Cruyff: Pep Guardi­ola and Ron­ald Koe­man. against

Koe­man acted as a men­tor for a young Guardi­ola when they played to­gether un­der Cruyff at Barcelona in the early 1990s, with both play­ers cen­tral to the style de­sired by the late Dutch great.

Now they are two of the most re­spected coaches around. Guardi­ola, in his first sea­son in English foot­ball, has guided City to first place in the league with six wins from seven games, while Ev­er­ton are in fifth place in Koe­man’s first sea­son at Good­i­son Park.

LIVER­POOL VS MAN­CHES­TER UNITED

Wayne Rooney would love noth­ing more than to score against Liver­pool to­mor­row. He may not get the chance. Rooney has started on the bench for Man United’s last two league games and was also dropped by Eng­land this week, de­moted to a sub­sti­tute’s role against Slove­nia on Tues­day. Chelsea at the Emi­rates

The for­mer Ev­er­ton for­ward has pre­vi­ously said he “hates” Liver­pool, com­ments which are reg­u­larly brought up to add an in­flam­ma­tory edge to what al­ready is tra­di­tion­ally the big­gest game in English foot­ball. North­west ri­vals United (20) and Liver­pool (18) have more league ti­tles than any other teams in the coun­try.

Liver­pool are in fourth place, three points ahead of sixth-place United.

UN­BEATEN SPURS

Boosted by a 2-0 win over Man­ches­ter City last time out, sec­ond-place Tot­ten­ham pro­tects the league’s only un­beaten record when they visit West Bromwich Al­bion to­mor­row, when it’s also Chelsea vs Le­ices­ter, Bournemouth vs Hull, Stoke vs Sun­der­land and Crys­tal Palace vs West Ham.

On Sun­day, Mid­dles­brough host Wat­ford and Southamp­ton are at home to Burn­ley.

DEV­AS­TAT­ING FORCE BRADLEY

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