Bob Bradley set for tough in­tro­duc­tion to Premier League

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Ask 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 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 on Satur­day, 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 Thurs­day. “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 has won its 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 so-called “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 on Thurs­day, 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 mind play­ing that,” Swansea de­fender Neil Tay­lor said. “We would be prob­a­bly writ­ten off even if we were in form.”

To­day Chelsea-Le­ices­ter Arse­nal-Swansea Bournemouth-Hull Man City-Ever­ton Stoke-Sun­der­land West Brom-Tot­ten­ham Crys­tal Palace-West Ham To­mor­row M’boro-Wat­ford Southamp­ton-Burn­ley Mon­day Liver­pool-Man United

Cham­pi­onship

Yes­ter­day Cardiff-Bris­tol C . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2-1 Nottm F.-Birm­ing­ham . . . . . . . . . . . . 3-1 To­day Barns­ley-Ful­ham Black­burn-Ip­swich Brighton-Pre­ston Derby-Leeds New­cas­tle-Brent­ford Nor­wich-Rother­ham QPR-Read­ing Wi­gan-Bur­ton As­ton Villa-Wolves To­mor­row Hud­der­s­field-Sh­effield W.

League One

To­day Wim­ble­don-Swin­don Bolton-Old­ham Bris­tol Rovers-Gilling­ham Charl­ton-Coven­try Fleet­wood-Peter­bor­ough Northamp­ton-Mill­wall Ox­ford Utd-Brad­ford Rochdale-Bury Scun­thorpe-MK Dons Sh­eff Utd-Port Val Southend-Ch­ester­field Wal­sall-Shrews­bury

League Two

To­day Ac­cring­ton S.-Black­pool Bar­net-Ex­eter Cam­bridge-Grimsby Carlisle-Hartle­pool Chel­tenham-Craw­ley Don­caster-Colchester Ley­ton Ori­ent-Lu­ton Mans­field-Wy­combe More­cambe-Steve­nage Notts County-Crewe Ply­mouth-Portsmouth Yeovil-New­port

SCOT­LAND

Swansea’s new coach Bob Bradley

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