Swansea City aim to raise their game in season of surprises
A MONTH ago today, West Brom were being condemned as relegation fodder after losing at home to Swansea City.
Last Saturday, they made it seven points from nine since the Swansea setback by triumphing at Old Trafford.
It was the latest grim day for David Moyes, whose Manchester United side are wobbling right now having looked so good at the Liberty on the opening day of the season.
On the same weekend, Arsenal were humbled at the Emirates by Aston Villa and Gunners fans were screaming about how Arsene Wenger's time ought to be up.
Now, after a fifth successive league win, Arsenal top the table and Wenger is a genius again.
Six weeks into the season, the Premier League is still taking shape.
Results are all over the place, and plenty of clubs are yet to find their rightful place in the top-flight table.
"It is still so early," Michael Laudrup points out.
His team are one of the few whose results to date have been fairly predictable to date.
Swansea have lost to all but one of the sides who are expected to finish above them this season — the draw with Liverpool was the exception — and beaten the two who should end up either alongside or below them.
Swansea's record of no home wins from three league games does not look great, but closer inspection provides an explanation.
Laudrup's men have the ability to trouble the big sides, but there is no shame in taking only one point from Liberty fixtures against United, Liverpool and Arsenal.
These are not the games which will dictate Swansea's fate this season, after all.
A bunch of those lie ahead.
Between now and Christmas, there is only one league fixture — at Manchester City on December 1 — where a Swansea victory would fall into the shock category.
There are plenty of tricky assignments ahead — like Southampton this weekend, and the South Wales derby on November 3 — but this is a period where Laudrup will be planning for points.
"Of course I look at the fixtures just like everyone else," Laudrup says.
"I am looking at other games in the league and I am making programmes for us.
"You always have to think about the next game, but you also have to look at the bigger picture as well."
Laudrup may be making plans, but he admits it is a tricky business in this season of surprises.
"You never know," he adds.
"When we won at West Brom, a lot of people were saying 'Yeah okay, Swansea did well but West Brom were really poor and they are really going to struggle'.
"Now they have won 3-0 (against Sunderland) and they have won at Old Trafford.
"That's just one example of how things can suddenly change.
"You start a good run, and suddenly you don't care if you have to go and play one of the big teams away because you feel as though you have the chance to get a result."
Swansea have had little joy against the country's heavyweights in the early stages of the season, but they can hope for more success now with some gentler games on the horizon.
Laudrup knows as much himself — but insists Swansea's focus should not drift too far forward.
There was no shame in last Saturday's defeat by Arsenal, when Swansea never reached top gear going forward and were punished heavily when defensive standards slipped at the start of the second half.
The trip to Birmingham City three days before Arsenal was less significant but more embarrassing, for Laudrup picked a team which should have been capable of seeing off the Blues.
The combination of League Cup elimination and a third league defeat this season has left the Dane hungry for immediate success.
"We have two important games to focus on this week," Laudrup says.
"The first of those is on Thursday and we have to win that game for two reasons.
"First we want to go top of our group in the Europa League, and second we have to get back to winning after losing two games, even if the game is in another different competition."
Swansea face a trip to St Mary's on Sunday, when they will take on a Southampton side whose early-season success has made them one of the Premier League's various surprises.
Before they tackle Mauricio Pochettino's team, Swansea must get to know St Gallen.
This is the game where Laudrup's players need to ram home the advantage they earned with that sensational victory in Valencia.
It is another trip into the unknown for Laudrup's players, who must take care given that St Gallen have seen off Spartak Moscow and Kuban Krasnodar in the last couple of months.
Whoever the opposition, Swansea will be confident of success on their own patch if they can manage to get somewhere close to their best.
Having failed to do so against Arsenal, that will be the task on Thursday night.