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Transfer Rater: Llorente to Chelsea


Transfer Rater: Wilfried Bony to Swansea

 By Max Hicks

Why aren't you watching Swansea,
Mr. Hodgson?

You can usually tell when Swansea are doing well without even looking at their results or the league table. If you listen carefully, you'll hear a small chorus of voices trying to make themselves heard in the Premier League cacophony, asking the same question: Why aren't Swansea's excellent English players being given international caps?

This time around, it is Nathan Dyer's name being shouted loudest in protest to Roy Hodgson's blindness to what happens over the border. OK, so the Swans are technically Welsh, but Dyer, Wayne Routledge, Jonjo Shelvey and Leon Britton are good English players and regular starters in one of the Premier League's more sophisticated footballing sides.

All are continually overlooked for international selection despite Hodgson's loose promise to develop a more sophisticated national style, one coincidentally based on a system similar to the one Swansea have mastered. Are players like Fabian Delph and Jack Colback going to fit that system better than Swansea's players?

Never mind "the Ginger Pirlo," Shelvey could be "the Hairless Pirlo" and is perhaps the only English player outside of Steven Gerrard -- now retired from international football -- capable of matching Pirlo's long pass ability, even if he does not yet share the Italian's composure.

Dyer, meanwhile, is in the form of his life. The winger scored six league goals last season and already has three in as many matches this season. And Routledge's martially artistic volley against West Brom was a spectacular way to open his account for the campaign.

Nathan Dyer and Gylfi Sigurdsson have been two of the form players in the Premier League so far.

The key player to all this extra production is neither English nor Welsh. Gylfi Sigurdsson was involved in all three Swansea goals vs. West Brom on Saturday and seems to have developed a quick understanding with, in particular, Dyer.

For a team that has been reliant on prodigious single-player scorers over the past two seasons -- Wilfried Bony last season and Michu the one before -- all this new auxiliary scoring is a huge bonus. Opposing teams now know they cannot simply double- or triple-mark Bony and expect to shut down the Swansea goal-scoring threat.

The more attention the Ivorian attracts, the more space Sigurdsson, Dyer and Routledge have to play with. Cover those three players and Bony is left in single coverage where he can do the most damage.

It's a good system, and following the international break, Chelsea will provide its strongest challenge. It's quite likely Swansea will be the side with the most to worry about defensively in that game with Diego Costa looking like the Fernando Torres Chelsea thought they were buying all those years ago. However, the Swans should have real chances on the counterattack, where they can use Dyer's main weapon -- his pace.

- Dyer double gives Swansea third win
- Monk praises Dyer and Routledge

If Swansea get any kind of good result at Stamford Bridge, then surely Hodgson has to start taking notice of the club's talented Englishmen. If nothing else, Swansea are proving that with the right system and right group of players -- not necessarily the league's so-called best players -- a team can become greater than the sum of its parts.

Like it or not, England have never been among world football's best national sides, so it makes sense that Hodgson should embrace the mentality of the Premier League's successful smaller clubs to transform the fortunes of his team.

Since the England manager is already basing his system on one similar to Swansea's, wouldn't he be best off recruiting the players who know that system better than most?


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