This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Comment’ series, this content strand is where the author of the article issues their personal opinion on the topic at hand…
Swansea City secured their first home victory since late August when they overcame fierce rivals Cardiff City with a 1-0 win in the South Wales derby.
Ben Wilmot netted winning goal in the 24th minute as he headed home Wayne Routledge’s teasing cross, and this ultimately proved to be enough for the Swans to claim the South Wales bragging rights until January at least.
It ended Swansea’s miserable run of home form after they had failed to win their previous four matches at the Liberty Stadium, while Cardiff extended their dismal away record which has seen them fail to win on their travels this term.
Swansea boss Steve Cooper made a total of six changes to his side ahead of the all-important fixture, with one of these seeing George Byers replace Jay Fulton in the Swans midfield alongside Matt Grimes.
Cooper has deployed Fulton in the midfield starting role for 12 of Swansea’s league matches this season, but he opted for Byers on Sunday afternoon and this was a move that ultimately paid off against Neil Warnock’s side.
Byers and Grimes combined well to ensure Swansea won the midfield battle against the Bluebirds, as the duo bossed the centre of the pitch with their composure on the ball and determination to regain possession for their side.
Should Cooper stick with Byers and Grimes in the Swansea midfield?
It was the first time Byers and Grimes have started at the base of midfield together since the end of last season, and their balanced midfield showing on Sunday suggests that this won’t be the last time they will be seen in a pairing.
Cooper should now stick with the Byers and Grimes combination for Swansea’s trip to face Wigan on the weekend, as the fact they were able to control the game against a strong Cardiff midfield suggests they are capable of competing with any side in the division.
Marlon Pack and Joe Ralls had both delivered impressive showings against Millwall during the week, but they were overrun by Byers and Grimes who looked much more determined to help claim the three points for their side.
It might seem slightly harsh on Fulton to now be left out of the Swansea side after his respectable start to the season, but Byers offers a more well-rounded presence as he can both compete for the ball and expand his side’s game play.
Cooper has taken a surprisingly long time to experiment with this midfield combination from the start in the league, and the pairing’s performance against the Bluebirds means they have surely now earned an opportunity for a prolonged run in the side together.