Swansea City aim to make more noise against Arsenal in the FA Cup
AT Swansea City, Michael Laudrup explains, things must be done quietly. Right now, however, his team are making plenty of noise.
There was a feeling of frustration within the Swansea camp this week after two points went begging against Aston Villa.
Laudrup's team really ought to have thumped Villa having created enough chances to win two games inside the first 11 minutes.
Yet having failed to take their opportunities, Swansea ended up scoring deep in stoppage time just to salvage a point.
And there was nothing quiet about the reaction of the home bench, with Laudrup and company dancing a New Year jig after Danny Graham's volley rattled into the net.
Laudrup's determination to keep schtum, of course, relates not to goal celebrations but to transfer dealings.
As if the Swansea manager has not got enough on his plate, there are likely to be a few of them to manage this month.
Take Graham, for instance.
Last season's top scorer has had a good Christmas, capitalising on a couple of rare starts by scoring a couple of goals.
Yet still Laudrup has not spelled out a desire to keep hold of Graham, and now the former Watford man has done an interview talking about the need for him to play games.
Graham is a talented player, one of the few in Laudrup's squad with a record of scoring Premier League goals, yet the signs are that the end of his stint as a Swansea player could be in sight.
If Laudrup does allow Graham to go, it will be because a replacement is on the way.
Celta Vigo's Iago Aspas has been mentioned, a player who would apparently cost around £8 million.
Whether it is Aspas or another frontman — St Etienne's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Braga's Eder are among the other names who have been touted — it seems Swansea are prepared to spend a significant chunk of money on a centre-forward this month.
Laudrup is also keen to add a left-back to his squad — hence the links with Marcos Alonso this week — while Real Betis's holding midfielder Jose Canas keeps on being mentioned.
Laudrup has made it clear that he wants to bolster his squad for the challenges ahead and, with new faces on the way, Swansea will also be looking to offload some of their fringe men.
As was the case in the last transfer window, the Dane has come out and stated that players who have not been regulars — like Graham — could be allowed to leave this month if they wish.
Yet some of those who have spent much of the league campaign on the bench may be required for duty this weekend, when Laudrup will contemplate changes for the FA Cup third-round tie with Arsenal.
It is not that he is not interested in the cup — Laudrup has stressed almost from the day he arrived in Wales that he likes dishing out blows in knockout competitions.
But Swansea must weigh up whether they can wheel out all the big guns to face Arsenal on Sunday given the battles on other fronts which are just around the corner.
Next Wednesday comes one of the biggest fixtures of Swansea's season, when they go to Chelsea in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final.
The last time this club reached the last four of a major cup competition, Manfred Mann and Cilla Black were competing for a place at the top of the hit parade. For anyone who is unsure, the year was 1964.
Swansea have never made it beyond the semi-final stage in one of the big two cups, so Laudrup stands on the brink of history.
After the Chelsea trip Swansea get back on the bus and head for Everton, who hardly ever lose at home these days, before playing host to a Stoke side who were beaten for the first time in 11 Premier League outings this week.
Then comes the night when Swansea hope to do something special, in the second leg against Chelsea, before they go to Sunderland (January 29) and West Ham (February 2).
It is a brutal run of fixtures — and there will be an FA Cup fourth-round tie to slot in should Swansea find a way past Arsenal.
Laudrup is juggling numerous balls right now, so it is understandable that he will consider rotating come Sunday lunchtime.
The good news is that Swansea have proved of late that there is strength within their squad.
Laudrup, like almost every other manager, wants a couple of new recruits this month, but there was evidence over Christmas that he already has decent options at his disposal.
There were seven changes, after all, at Fulham last weekend, yet new-look Swansea worked hard, stayed strong and dug out a 2-1 victory.
They produced a huge defensive effort at Craven Cottage, with Garry Monk and Ashley Williams outstanding at the heart of the back four.
Something similar will surely be required this weekend against an Arsenal side who will be looking to make amends for what happened the last time they faced Swansea.
If anyone in these parts needs reminding, Swansea produced an excellent performance at the Emirates just over a month ago and took all three points thanks to Michu's late double.
The hysterical reaction of the natives that day suggested Arsene Wenger's time may be up in North London, yet Arsenal have not lost a game since.
In fact, the Swansea reverse was their only defeat in ten league games, and they are right in the hunt to finish in the Champions League places once again this season.
Yet Arsenal crave trophies — hence left-back Kieran Gibbs has dubbed Sunday's game as one of the biggest of their season.
Given everything else that is going on, that is not the case for Swansea.
But Arsenal's visit presents Laudrup's side with another opportunity to make some noise.