sport

Laudrup happy at Swans muscle

Michael Laudrup believes Swansea's victory over Stoke is further proof they have the substance to with their style.

Swansea have long been lauded for their attractive passing style, which Laudrup has tweaked to great effect since succeeding Brendan Rodgers last summer.

But there have been those who have questioned Swansea's ability to cope with the physical side of the game.

However, Swansea's improvement in that area has been shown by their excellent away record, and Saturday's 3-1 home win over Stoke again showed the Swans have the ability to tough it out.

A Jonathan de Guzman double and Ben Davies' first senior goal sealed the victory, which was built on a solid defensive foundation.

Centre-halves Ashley Williams and Garry Monk coped manfully with the physical presence of Stoke forwards Peter Crouch, Kenwyne Jones and Cameron Jerome, with midfielder Ki Sung-yueng also impressing with his defensive performance.

And with the result coming on the back of a gutsy goalless draw at Champions League hopefuls Everton, Laudrup is delighted to see the resolve being shown by his side, particularly with the second leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final against Chelsea looming.

Laudrup said: "It was great to see, I had concerns about the set-pieces but I thought we defended really well.

"Even the long balls up to Crouch and Walters and Kenwyne Jones, the guys at the back did great and the two centre-halves did very well against Crouch and the people around to pick up the second and third balls.

"In the last five or six games we have shown we can physically match sides.

"Last week we played Everton with (Marouane) Fellaini, (Nikica) Jelavic, (Sylvain) Distin and (Phil) Jagielka and did great. It shows we can cope when the game is played this way."

Laudrup also praised his players for the focus they showed against the Potters, when some could have been forgiven for casting their eyes forward to the midweek meeting with Chelsea and a potential Wembley final.

"I said in the team meeting, I understand if people had thoughts about the game on Wednesday, but if you're focus is elsewhere you can lose the game and there is a risk for injuries against a physical team like Stoke," he said.

"If you are not 100% and focused in your mind you can get hurt but that was not the case for a single second.

"We have a huge game coming up on Wednesday, but people may forget we have two tough away games coming up at Sunderland and West Ham so this was very important.

"It will still be complicated for us to beat Chelsea, despite our fantastic result in the first game. They have very good away form so it is still 50/50, but the important thing for me is we still have the possibility to go to the final."

The only positive for Stoke was Michael Owen opening his account for the club with a consolation strike in injury time.

It was the former England striker's first goal since October 2011, and his first Premier League goal since the final day of the 2010-11 season.