Andre Ayew celebrates his opening goal for Swansea City. Pic: Getty Images.

Swansea City Close To Championship Summit But Steve Cooper Insists: Don’t Heap Expectation On Us Yet

By Paul Jones

Steve Cooper saluted Swansea City’s surging promotion campaign as they moved to within touching distance of the top of the Championship after a 2-0 win at home to Norwich City.

Goals from Andre Ayew and blistering drive from Conor Hourihane gave the Swans their sixth win in seven games as they moved to within two points of leaders Norwich with a game in hand.

This was another victory built on the most solid of foundations with Steve Cooper’s tightest defence in the league delivering their 15th clean sheet of the campaign.

Ayew and Hourihane supplied the goals in a six-minute spell either side of the break, but the way Swansea’s defence dealt with everything the leaders could throw at them was evidence of the Swans’ growing confidence levels during an unbeaten 2021.

Cooper’s side are unbeaten in 10 matches, with eight victories and two draws, with their three-man defence of Kyle Naughton, Ryan Bennett and the hugely impressive Marc Guehi looking impregnable.

But Cooper insisted: “There was no expectations at the start of the season so I think it would be unfair to start doing it now with 19 games to go.

“We take it game by game. Sorry, I say it every week. We have a ridiculous amount of games to play ahead and we can’t look too far ahead.

Steve Cooper .Pic: George Wood/Getty Images

“It was a different challenge tonight. We had to defend tactically and I thought we were excellent because Norwich are a very good team and I have a lot of respect for them as a football club.”

Hourihane has now scored three goals in as many games and Cooper revealed as soon as he lost loanee Morgan Gibbs-White back to Wolves, he identified the need for another goalscoring midfielder.

“I felt once we lost Morgan, I felt we needed a player that you fancy to get goals. Yan (Dhanda) will do it as well.

“But Conor’s numbers are really good for a midfield player and a lot of that is from set-plays as well, which is something we have now.

“It’s great that he has come in and scored goals but it’s not a surprise because of his numbers he’s really bought into what we want from his role on the pitch and he’s a real high quality player.

“He’s very intrigued to know how we work and how we want to play and he wants to get on board and he already has, let’s just hope we can keep it in the past.”

Cooper paid tribute to Swansea City fan Mitchell Powell and dedicated the victory to the young supporter who tragically died during double heart valve replacement surgery this week.

“I’d like to dedicate the result to Mitchell Powell. Unfortunately, we lost one of the Jack Army in awful, tragic circumstances.

“As a football club, our heart goes out to the family. We wish them well.”

Norwich manager Daniel Farke admitted: “We are disappointed. It’s sometimes important to feel the disappointment. It was a tight game between two top sides.

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“They are the best defence in the league, but also dangerous on the counter-attack.

“We made a crucial key mistake for the first goal and then we gave the ball away for the second.

“We tried everything, but they are good when they concentrate on sitting deep. We have to accept the loss.

“This league is all about consistency and not about momentum. You will always have periods of a few games when you do not find the net.”

In an even opening, Swansea’s added extra was the threat they posed from set-pieces, in particular the long throws of Connor Roberts.

Norwich thought they had dodged a bullet when Conor Hourihane’s shot was blocked from one Roberts arrow just before the break, but from the immediate corner that followed the home side went ahead.

Krul flapped at the ball, Guehi and Jake Bidwell had shots blocked, but as Norwich defenders hesitated, Ayew remained calm and swept the ball low into the corner.


If Swansea’s first goal owed much to a wound inflicted on themselves by Norwich, the second was purely down to the individual brilliance of Conor Hourihane.

The midfielder was found by Jay Fulton and struck a ferocious low drive from 25 yards into the far corner that a surprised Krul was unable to reach.

It was a goal that typrified the Irishman’s current renaissance after half a season of frustration and underactivity at Villa Park.

Norwich now had to gamble more and although the impressive Cantwell continued to create opportunities, his teammates lacked Swansea’s precision.

Kenny McLean was a prime culprit as he stubbed a shot wide from 12 yards.


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