A trio of lessons to learn for Swansea
Swansea have started the season brightly, but before attentions turn to West Brom at the weekend and the search for a third successive win, Garry Monk's men must negotiate a Capital One Cup second-round tie Tuesday night against Rotherham.
Monk will be presented with an opportunity to rotate his new squad, and here are three observations from Saturday that the Swansea manager might consider heading into a busy week.
Wilfried Bony is a football genius
The striker's scoring prowess is not news, but what isn't spoken about often enough is his contribution elsewhere on the field. In a solid first-half display against Burnley, Bony's football was spectacular. The striker's link-up play is every bit as impressive as his scoring and on Saturday, Bony's flicks, lay-offs, one-touch passes and back-heels were genius.
He might be waiting for his first goal this season, but he was instrumental in Ki Sung-Yeung's opener against Manchester United last week and played the part of decoy to allow space for Nathan Dyer to score against Burnley. Goals of his own will follow, and as the transfer window deadline draws near, so will offers for Bony's services.
Bony has previously drawn comparisons with Everton's Romelu Lukaku, who cost Everton 28 million pounds. Bony is the more complete player -- very few other strikers contribute as much beyond the front lines. Swansea should take no less than 35 million pounds when the day to move on comes.
It's still a game of two halves
Swansea were very much a Jekyll-and-Hyde proposition last season. Although the performance against Manchester United was consistent, Burnley's ascendancy in the second half on Saturday would have rung some alarm bells for Monk.
Sean Dyche's halftime team talk did the trick for Burnley, but Monk's men were visibly poorer than their first-half showing. A second half to match the first probably would have seen a second goal regardless of Burnley's renewed effort. Instead, a passive performance invited a Burnley equaliser that fortunately did not come.
Monk might have put a positive spin on it afterward by pointing to Burnley's single shot on target, but that was more the result of poor finishing. Swansea must find a way to maintain concentration and urgency for the full 90 minutes, because better sides won't miss their chances.
Return of the destroyer
Football's recent love affair with the Barcelona and Spain's possession style all but saw the extinction of the classic destroyer. Now that affection is over and the latest trend points toward more direct attacking, not to mention more attacking players thanks to three-at-the-back systems. The defensive midfielder is back with a vengeance -- or a crunching tackle at least.
This year's World Cup saw standout performances from the likes of Gary Medel and Javier Mascherano, and Manchester United's reported interest in bringing Nigel de Jong back to the Premier League only demonstrates how a type of player once deemed surplus to requirements in this league is very much back in demand.
Swansea could do a lot worse than follow through on rumours to sign Montpellier's Benjamin Stambouli, a defensive midfield beast who can usefully also cover at centre back, full back and further forward in regular old central midfield.
On Saturday, Ki's occasionally haphazard bungling in defensive areas nearly gifted Burnley a penalty, while Jonjo Shelvey does not have the right defensive tools or temperament to play shutdown football. Stambouli is exactly what the Swans need before the window shuts.