Swansea City extended their unbeaten run to three matches by claiming a point against Blackburn Rovers.
Here are some of the talking points to emerge from the Championship encounter in Lancashire.
The one man to shine
Few in turquoise and raspberry could be satisfied with their performance at Ewood Park.
Andre Ayew once again kept his cool from the spot to earn Swansea a point while Ben Cabango improved after a rocky start alongside Kyle Naughton who was solid enough.
But Matt Grimes – who made 13 appearances during a loan spell with Rovers five years ago – continued his recent fine form by turning in another encouraging individual display that in turn summed up just how sloppy others were.
The captain made five interceptions and four tackles to top the charts for Swansea players in both of those categories.
Rovers enjoyed plenty of joy in the middle third, often after they evaded Swansea’s press.
However, Grimes – who once again operated in a deep-lying role – did his defensive duties very well to ease the burden on those behind him as the hosts created numerous problems in Swansea’s half.
If others had matched the skipper’s efforts, the Swans would no doubt have had some kind of a grip on the game.
Collectively, Swansea have flattered to deceive of late. But on an individual level, Grimes has been consistently performing well in what is a vital position in the pitch.
A glass-half-full approach
“We can beat anybody in the league on our day and we could and should have beaten the team who could have gone second in our league had they won.”
That was the verdict of Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray after the game.
In fairness, few could argue with the 57-year-old’s assessment of the match.
The fact Swansea returned to south Wales from the north west of England with a point was an achievement in itself given how poor they were against Blackburn.
And it means they are now level with second placed Watford on 66 points after 34 games.
Of course, the Hornets have played a game more than the Swans while Cooper’s men are now three points better off than Brentford having played the same number of matches as Thomas Frank’s side.
“We’re a point better off, it was one of the games in hand, and sometimes if you don’t play well, make sure you don’t lose,” said Cooper.
And Jay Fulton commented: “There is no getting around it. We have three away games within the space of a week, but that’s the way it is. We will stick together and try to get three more points.
“They are a good side, so we take the positives from it and move onto Saturday against Luton.”
While Fulton’s eagerness to swiftly move on from Tuesday night’s showing was entirely understandable given the relentless nature of the schedule, the performance from the away side threw up some big concerns…
The three-game run raising serious questions
It’s somewhat ironic that Swansea lost 3-1 to Bristol City after what was arguably their best attacking performance of the season – albeit for just shy of 60 minutes rather than over the course of the whole 90.
Since that home defeat to the Robins, the Swans have collected seven of the nine points on offer, despite being horribly off colour over the majority of the same time frame.
After falling behind at Stoke City, Cooper’s men claimed all three points at the bet365 Stadium. But it’s even more telling that Swansea have earned four points from their last two outings.
They were outplayed for long periods in their controversial 2-1 triumph over Middlesbrough while they didn’t lay a glove on Blackburn.
Swansea have developed a brilliant knack of grinding out results this season, which is a trait that really shouldn’t be sniffed at given how difficult a campaign it is in reality given the problems of the world.
However, fans have every right to question what the plan actually is.
With 12 games left to go, Swansea remain in a fantastic position to achieve success this season. But – while results have been superb over the course of the last three games – recent performances have been so sub-standard that the Jack Army are struggling to see how their side can pip Watford and Brentford to an automatic promotion spot.
Poor pitches, fatigue and a congested schedule can all be factors when it comes to a sluggish one-off performance, but when it’s a consistent problem, supporters can certainly be forgiven for having concerns.
The squad concern that’s existed all along
At various stages this season, fans have called for fringe players to be given the chance to impress.
Many felt Viktor Gyokeres and Kasey Palmer deserved more game-time in the opening half of the season while some have been eager to see Morgan Whittaker and Paul Arriola feature of late.
Jamal Lowe has not scored in his last 12 appearances and – after starting on the bench against Middlesbrough – he failed to impress on his return to the starting XI at Blackburn.
The 26-year-old’s talents are there for all to see. His run of seven goals in as many matches from December to January proved why the coaching staff stuck by him during his previous barren spell.
But things appear to be different this time around.
Lowe’s energy and pressing have played a key part in Swansea’s collective effort this season, but the attacker looked alarmingly off the pace against Rovers.
Cooper’s previous comments on Arriola and Whittaker along with their lack of game-time both suggest that the head coach – whose comments about Middlesbrough’s bench on Saturday were telling – does not have full confidence in his squad options.
To an extent, that makes sense given that he was determined to bring in an out-and-out number nine in January – something he has not been able to do since Rhian Brewster joined on loan from Liverpool more than a year ago.
Arriola – who on Saturday apologised for language he used in historic tweets – was not included in the squad at Blackburn due to a slight thigh strain, although his replacement Wayne Routledge got just over 10 minutes under his belt on what was his return from more than six weeks on the sidelines with a calf injury.
If tiredness is the main cause for Swansea’s recent lethargic showings, then the international break can’t come quickly enough.
Norwich City, Watford and Brentford have all had sticky spells this season while their performance levels have dropped at various stages, so it’s clearly a league-wide issue.
But it appears as though watching the Swans from their homes could continue to be something of a chore for the Jack Army in the coming weeks.
Although at this stage of the season, results are the number one priority, right?
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