Llorente and Sigurdsson – Swansea’s Dynamic Duo
Posted by Matt Walters | Published on February 26, 2017
In a tricky season for Swansea City, they have gone through 3 permanent managers and spent most of their season in the bottom three. In a dark time, their shining light this season has been the developing relationship between Spanish striker Fernando Llorente and Icelandic ace Gylfi Sigurdsson. The two were targets of big money bids in January with Antonio Conte keen to bring Llorente to Stamford Bridge whereas the financial firepower of China sought to add Sigurdsson to their ranks. However, Swans boss Paul Clement was able to keep them and his determination seems to have paid off so far.
In a Summer of turmoil, Swansea City was purchased by American pair Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien. There was immediate tensiin as key target Joe Allen slipped through their fingers to join Stoke and star players Andre Ayew and Ashley Williams were allowed to join Premier League rivals. With immense pressure and anger surrounding the club, a statement was needed. World Cup winner Fernando Llorente was part of that statement, Gylfi Sigurdsson signing a 4 year contract was another.
It was a slow start – neither player scored or got an assist until early September when Sigurdsson’s penalty helped Swansea to a 2-2 draw at home to Chelsea. Llorente’s first goal came in a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City; Sigurdsson got the assist. Questions were asked about the big Spaniard though as he failed to score in his next 7 matches. Swansea failed to win any of the matches in between and Francesco Guidolin was sacked.
In Swansea’s 5-4 win over Crystal Palace, the pair were at their best. At 1-1, Sigurdsson had already scored but Llorente came off the bench to have an immediate impact, Sigurdsson’s corner fell perfectly to him, Cabaye scrambled it off the line but Leroy Fer tucked it home. 3-4 down late in the match, Sigurdsson latched onto the rebound and blasted the ball towards Llorente for the Spaniard to tap in. In stoppage time, Sigurdsson launched a free kick from the halfway line, Federico Fernandez kept it in and Llorente side-footed the winner. It marked the start of an iconic partnership this season,
In all, Sigurdsson has set up 4 of Llorente’s 9 Premier League goals so far but many more have come indirectly as a result of Sigurdsson’s delivery, such as his first goal at Anfield; Sigurdsson’s corner landed at the feet of Wayne Routledge and the winger held the ball long enough for Llorente to line up his shot. The best example of their partnership came at Stamford Bridge, Swansea were 1-0 down at the start of stoppage time in the first half but won a free kick on the edge of Chelsea’s half. Clement signalled for Swansea’s big men (Mawson, Fernandez, Llorente and Fer) to go forward and so Chelsea set up a high line. Llorente didn’t need to watch the ball come in from the halfway line as it floated perfectly into his path for the Spaniard to head home despite hardly breaking his stride.
Sigurdsson has scored 9 goals and set up a further 9 in all competitions for Swansea this season and recently overtook Bob Latchford as Swansea’s top scorer in top flight football. Llorente has also scored 9 goals but without the pair’s combined goal tally, they would be 12 points worse off. That is 50% of Swansea’s current points tally, they would be 7 points adrift from Sunderland at the bottom of the table and 10 points away from safety. If this run continues, Swansea will be fighting off bids at an increasing volume for many windows to come.