Swansea City’s English defender Alfie Mawson (R) shoots to score the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Swansea City and Leicester City at The Liberty Stadium in Swansea, south Wales on February 12, 2017. PHOTO: Geoff CADDICK / AFP
Defenders Alfie Mawson and Martin Olsson gave Swansea City a 2-0 win over Leicester City on Sunday that nudged the flatlining Premier League champions closer to the relegation zone.
Mawson and Olsson netted crisp strikes prior to half-time at the Liberty Stadium to give Swansea manager Paul Clement a fourth win in six games since he succeeded the sacked Bob Bradley.
Swansea’s victory, their 100th in the top flight, took them four points clear of the bottom three and left Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester just one point and one position clear of danger in 17th place.
The extraordinary feats of last season have been replaced by history of a different kind as Leicester became the first reigning champions to lose five successive top-flight games since Chelsea in 1956.
They also became the first team to go six games without scoring at the start of a calendar year in the English top tier since Stoke City in 1985.
Brought back down to earth after their mid-week FA Cup win at Derby County, Leicester could scarcely be in a more sorry state as their Champions League last 16 tie with Sevilla looms on the horizon.
Clement made one change, bringing Nathan Dyer in for Wayne Routledge, but was forced to reverse the switch after Dyer’s reunion with his old club was curtailed by an ankle injury sustained in the fifth minute.
Dyer, who spent last season on loan at Leicester, duly re-emerged on the bench, the lower half of his left leg encased in a protective boot.
With the big guns restored to the Leicester line-up after their 3-1 win over local rivals Derby, the visitors looked to assert themselves.
– Sorry predicament –
But blocked shots from Wilfred Ndidi, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez were all they had to show for their early endeavours and as the first half wore on, Swansea established control.
After Routledge had seen a volley parried by Kasper Schmeichel and Gylfi Sigurdsson had drilled a shot wide with his left foot from outside the box, the home side took a 36th-minute lead.
Robert Huth could only help Sigurdsson’s free-kick towards the back post, where it was nodded back into the danger zone by Federico Fernandez, and Mawson lashed a vicious volley past Schmeichel.
Swansea landed another blow in first-half stoppage time after a slick one-touch move involving Tom Carroll, Fernando Llorente and Sigurdsson.
The latter’s through-ball freed Olsson, who drove into the box from wide on the left before battering a shot between Schmeichel and his near post.
Ranieri made a double change at half-time, sending on Ben Chilwell and Islam Slimani for Christian Fuchs and Marc Albrighton.
Slimani came closest to bringing Leicester back into the game, first seeing a shot blocked by Lukasz Fabianski from Mahrez’s deft pass and then just failing to get a touch on Mahrez’s right-wing cross.
But Leicester’s problems in front of goal were destined to continue, a wild shot from Vardy drawing derisive hoots from the Swansea fans and summing up the champions’ sorry predicament.