I claim to be no expert on African football, nor Ligue 1 for that matter, so it was with trepidation that I put my foot onto the ‘Andre Ayew bandwagon.’
It is fair to say that the Ghanaian forward arrived in Swansea enveloped in hype from both Swansea fans and supporters from elsewhere. Them and certain pundits were seemingly dubbing him the ‘Bargain of the Season’ before a ball had even been kicked, but I refused to get carried away with the free signing from Marseille until he’d put in a showing for the Swans. So after just one game for the Swans, how do I feel about him? I’m firmly onboard the bandwagon now.
Stamford Bridge was arguably the toughest opening game of the season that the Swans could have asked for, but to a man they were superb and the work ethic and drive of the team was incredible. And this is what impressed me so much about Ayew; he put on that Swans shirt and ran himself into the ground. There was maybe less chance for him to express himself on the ball as much as he would have liked to, but he was tireless in his work up and down the right wing.
More importantly, he knew the right times to get up front alongside the equally hardworking Bafe Gomis. One such dart into the box was perfectly timed, as Gomis’ header was saved brilliantly by Thibaut Courtois, only for Ayew to latch onto the rebound, hit his first shot at the Chelsea defence, before having the composure to clamber back to his feet and hit home at the second attempt. It really was impressive how he got back up and scored to show that the Ghanaian is not one to lose his head.
This brings me onto the other winger – the man who set up the initial chance for Gomis: Jefferson Montero. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a player so comprehensively obliterate the usually imperious Branislav Ivanovic. In regards of wingers, Montero is definitely of the ‘old school’ variety and it was easy to lose count of how many times he took on and beat the Serb successfully; so much so that Chelsea had to double up on him – not that that seemed to stop him!
This could be a big season for Montero, as he has now gone through that supposedly awkward ‘transition year’ that all foreign players are supposed to go through on joining the Premier League; not that ‘Jeff’ found it too awkward. At times last season, Montero was unplayable (just ask Calum Chambers), but a combination of niggly injuries, which would obviously affect a speedy winger, and Garry Monk changing the Swansea formation to a winger-less diamond formation, halted the player ever getting a true, consistent run in the team.
It was a surprise on Saturday when Monk opted to ditch the usually sturdy diamond formation, which served the Swans so well after Christmas last season, for the more adventurous 4-2-3-1 formation used by the team for the first half of last season. Ultimately, the formation delivered the goods at Stamford Bridge and Swansea probably should have won the game in the end against 10-man Chelsea. It will now be interesting to see whether Monk sticks with this attacking setup for the next few games. Undoubtedly, the showing of both wingers on Saturday will give Monk plenty of reason to keep his pack unchanged.