Swansea caused a big upset last night in the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final with Chelsea by winning 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea saw a lot of the ball through-out the encounter, but couldn’t find a way past a resilient Swans defence.
This will be a game that Chelsea centre-back Branislav Ivanovic will want to forget in hurry. The Serbian made errors for both of the Swansea goals and basically gifted the Welsh side their two goal victory.
The first goal arrived in the 39th minute. The defender was sloppy on the ball and gave the ball to the Swans top scorer Michu, who fired low past Chelsea stand-in keeper Ross Turnbull.
The second goal arrived in injury-time. The Serbian defender played a ball back to his keeper without looking around him and Swansea substitute Danny Graham latched onto it rounded Ross Turnbull and fired into an empty net.
It was uncharacteristic of the Serbian, as he has been one of the most consistent defenders in the top flight in recent years, but endured a nightmare night.
Demba Ba came on with ten minutes remaining and was involved in two incidents, the first of which coming in injury-time. The Senegal international chased a ball over the Swansea backline only to collide with Swans keeper Gerhard Tremmel in the penalty area.
The Chelsea fans appealed for a penalty, but instead Ba was booking for simulation by referee Anthony Taylor. The booking looked harsh, although it would probably have been a harsh decision to give a spot kick.
The striker also had a goal ruled out for offside in injury-time, which was definitely a marginal decision by the referee’s assistant. Although both decisions went against him Ba offered more of an attacking threat than Torres did in 80 minutes, and he only made a cameo from the bench.
The 27 year-old definitely offers Chelsea something different to Torres and the Blues needed that extra dimension to their play. Ba offers more of a physical presence up front than Torres and he is a superb alternative to the Spaniard.
I think Chelsea fans were starting to come around to Rafa Benitez. However last night they vented their frustration at the Spaniard. They were disgruntled at the fact that Benitez took too long to bring Ba and Blues hero Frank Lampard off the substitute’s bench.
Benitez has made a decent start at Chelsea, but some of his decisions will always be questioned by a section of the Stamford Bridge faithful because of his past tempestuous relationship with the club.
The Spaniard looks unlikely to be around at the club for the long-term. Adding a league cup to his CV would do him no harm in finding himself employment elsewhere. For now though he is Chelsea manager and the fans need to get behind him for the good of the club.
Michael Laudrup has done an outstanding job since replacing Brendan Rodgers in the summer. The Danish legend has already guided the Swans to victories at the Emirates Stadium and Anfield this season.
Laudrup and Swansea seem like the perfect match. The Dane has continued the good work started by Rodgers, but also added a big extra to the team. The Swans now play a slightly more direct style, without losing their passing style of play.
The Swans boss has also performed very shrewdly in the transfer market. Swansea made arguably the signing of the summer bringing in Michu from Rayo Vallecano for just £2million.
The 26 year-old has went on to score 16 goals this season and been one of the Premier League’s top performers. Michu isn’t the only signing of Laudrup’s that’s impressed this season the likes Jonathan De Guzman and Chico Flores have also proved to be clever buys.
Michael Laudrup is on the verge of making history with his Swansea team. The Jacks are just 90 minutes away from their first ever major cup final appearance.
With the club sitting comfortably in midtable and in the semi-final of the league, they are having an even better season than they did last season and they look to have a bright future under the management of Laudrup.
The second leg will be a fascinating encounter. It will be a really hard one to predict. Swansea will head into the game with the two goal lead and the backing of the very vocal Liberty crowd.
However Chelsea on their day have the players to pull any team apart and could still go through. Whatever happens in the second leg Michael Laudrup has done a sterling job in South Wales.
He has done such a good job that people are no longer missing Brendan Rodgers. The only problem for Swansea now will be keeping hold of Laudrup as his managerial reputation grows.
That’s for the future; for now though I’m sure that everybody connected with Swansea will be looking forward to that all important second leg and hoping that their club make history.
Who will progress to the final of the Capital One Cup?