Swansea are living dangerously close to the relegation places at this point in the season. After years of stability and safety in the Premier League in previous seasons, the Welsh club could find themselves playing Championship football next season. The narrow defeat at Manchester City would not have helped their cause, but Swansea have picked up much needed wins before and after with victories over Liverpool, Southampton and Leicester which has boosted the confidence around the Liberty Stadium. Other than the appointment of Paul Clement at the helm, one man central to Swansea’s resurgence is Icelandic talisman Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Probably one of the most underrated players plying their trade in the Premier League. Does Sigurdsson deserve more praise and recognition?
Sigurdsson celebrates scoring against Manchester City
Gylfi Sigurdsson found himself on the scoresheet against Manchester City at the Etihad stadium with his side narrowly beaten by Manchester City taking his goal tally for the season to 8 goals.
It was so nearly a different story for Swansea. Gylfi Sigurdsson’s 81st minute equaliser could have consigned Swansea to a vital point – or to even snatch a victory like they did at Anfield a couple weeks before – only for City’s late winner to halt Swansea’s effort and to ensure another starring contribution from the Icelandic talisman passed under the radar. The afternoon belonged to Gabriel Jesus.
However, in the victory over Premier League champions Leicester City at the Liberty, normal service was resumed with a brilliant assist for Martin Olsson to notch Swansea’s second goal taking his assist tally to 8 for the season, the Icelandic international has been involved in half of Swansea’s goal this season, a feat that only highlights his huge importance to the Swansea cause as they battle on to avoid the drop.
Gylfi Sigurdsson has grown accustomed to performing under the radar and enjoying others taking the spotlight but his precise and accurate left footed strike at the Etihad was his third goal in three games and his eighth of the season so far. You could even throw in the fact that he’s laid on eight assists for his team-mates. There are only six players in the Premier League with a higher combined total. What’s interesting about those stats is that all 6 of those players you could say naturally are the main strikers for their team. Sigurdsson is the only one of those six players impressing from midfield.
Most goals and assists combined – Premier League 2016/17
|Zlatan Ibrahimovic||Man Utd||15||4||19|
Alexis Sanchez, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Diego Costa are amongst the star studded group and Sigurdsson’s return is even more impressive when you consider the circumstances. Battling away in a relegation dogfight and under the three different managers this season, he has scored twice as many goals as Kevin De Bruyne. He has provided more than twice as many assists as Eden Hazard.
It’s difficult to attract the same kind of plaudits as Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne when you’re down at the bottom but few players can boast about their importance to their team. Sigurdsson has notched decisive goals against Liverpool, Everton, Chelsea and Southampton this season and without him Swansea would be languishing at the foot of the table.
The Icelandic international has been integral to Swansea since he left for the Liberty Stadium from Tottenham in 2014, with his performances deserving better than the 17th position at which his team are currently situated. Since his move in 2014, Sigurdsson has contributed 26 goals and 21 assists. Has Pochettino and Tottenham missed a trick with letting him go? With his added quality, maybe, just maybe Tottenham would have been in a much better position to properly challenge Leicester City last year.
In comparison to all of Tottenham’s attacking talent, since Sigurdsson’s departure, only Harry Kane has scored more goals (60) while Christian Eriksen is the only one to have provided more assists (23).
Paul Clement recently claimed that his star midfielder could play for any of the top clubs in Europe and on the form he’s in of late, he certainly deserves the accolades. His long-range shooting, and classy dead ball deliveries are a formidable weapon to the Swansea Arsenal. His equaliser at Manchester City was his ninth goal from outside the box in the past three seasons pitting him level with Liverpool’s Coutinho and one behind Christian Eriksen.
Most goals from outside the box – Premier League since 2014/15
|Player||Team||Goals from outside box|
|Sergio Aguero||Man City||8|
|Yaya Toure||Man City||8|
Sigurdsson struggled to cement a starting berth at Spurs, but he has consistently performed for Swansea from year-to-year since his arrival. He netted nine times in his first season and is already on course to beat his tally for 2015/2016 (11), but there are more to his talents than just scoring and providing.
Sigurdsson does it all, he combines technical skill with hard work on and off the ball along with his stamina and work rate. At a time when pressing from the front has become a popular trait, he is well equipped to lead the way despite his lack of pace.
The Premier League tracking data proves this, in each of Swansea’s last four league games – in which they have beaten Liverpool, Southampton, a narrow defeat at Manchester City, and the win against Leicester City – Sigurdsson has made more intensity sprints than any of his team mates which reflects his sheer determination off the ball.
He has been vital to Swansea’s resurgence in recent weeks and now the Welsh club find themselves 4 points of the relegation zone after a win against fellow strugglers Leicester City. The appointment Paul Clement has certainly raised the confidence and aura around the club as they aim to sustain their status in the English top-flight.
There aren’t many more complete midfielders in the Top half of the Premier League let alone the bottom. Sigurdsson may never dominate the headlines like Christian Eriksen, Paul Pogba, Coutinho, or even Hazard. But for Swansea, he could be the difference between relegation and survival.
Written by Anthony Onifade
Follow Anthony on twitter @antzhumbleent
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