A chilly night in West London saw Playoff potentials QPR host a depleted Swansea who had not won in 5 attempts. QPR looking for their 5th win on the bounce, the majority of which coming late. Swansea, however, were struggling coming into the fixture, with the Swans just winning 1 game in 5. Despite, having a strong start to the season the loss of Ethan Laird to Bournemouth and Joel Piroe’s goals drying up have really put pressure on Russell Martins’s side. Despite the cold weather, this fixture did not do an awful lot to warm us up…
- Nationality: Dutch
- Age: 22
- Date of Birth: 02/08/1999
- Current Club: Swansea
- Career: Feyenoord, PSV, Sparta Rotterdam, Swansea
- Position: Striker
- Preferred foot: Left
Joel Piroe held Swansea’s attacking line in this fixture vs QPR. From the outset was tasked with holding the ball up, bringing others into play and making bursts into the box from crosses. Mainly operating as a penalty box-poacher he was feeding off scraps this match. But, when asked to hold the ball up and bring wing players into play, he did so well. Piroe is a real presence in both boxes and his hold up play is a particular asset, especially in a possession-heavy side such as Swansea. He did show versatility, for instance he did pull out wide and run the channels although when doing so he did look a bit leggy, not as sharp as when he is holding the ball up/operating opposition box. I think his physical attributes are best suited to a ‘hold-up man’ as opposed to someone who runs the channels, he is not the quickest, despite being pretty strong, he just looked a bit unorthodox on the wing.
Defensively, he did not press with much urgency and showed reluctance in this sense. In a different sense, I would like to see more talking from him/pointing to where he wants the ball, although it is a new league and new culture for Piroe to operate in.
Unfortunate outing for Piroe, as previously mentioned he was feeding off scraps. Although you can tell he has a real eye for goal, this showed in the 50th minute, when his languid effort was clawed away by QPR’s shot stopper. This highlighted his composure in front of goal and his goal IQ. For a big man as well he showed nice swivel speed to work the angle for this shot. Being a real poacher is Piroe’s natural habitat, he holds smart positions in the opposition box, will predominantly head deep then pull back short for the cut-back. Technically he is pretty strong, especially when the ball is popped into him, shows a good initial first touch but then showed rustiness in his further touches. Also, Piroe showed some rustiness in working the offside trap, he did have the chance to spring QPR’s trap although perhaps not having the particular whereabouts/awareness at the time to benefit off their offside trap in the first half. Saying this, Piroe made some nice runs in behind QPR’s defence and showed nice first touches to bring floated balls down. These runs were particularly beneficial when running into the half-space.
Overall, Piroe showed some nice touches, nice link-up play and good box management to have some moments of success against QPR. Piroe is definitely at his most dangerous in the opposition box, if Swansea can get more balls into them, like they did in the first half of the season, they will have much more joy. I personally think that if Swansea see their season out the way they are going, then there will be a big Championship/lower Premier League side in for him. I would very much like to see him again, whereby he was not feeding off scraps all game.
Rating – C
- Nationality: Irish
- Age: 21
- Date of Birth: 06/07/2000
- Current Club: Swansea City
- Career: Leyton Orient, Southampton, Swansea City (Loan)
- Position: Striker
- Preferred foot: Right
Michael Obafemi broke onto the scene at Southampton a couple of years ago now, especially after his assured finish away at Stamford Bridge in 2019. Obafemi played a bit-part role in this game vs QPR and came on the 63rd minute for the Dutchman Joel Piroe. During this season too, he has very much played second fiddle to Piroe, notching up a total of 10 substitute appearances.
From the outset, you can just gauge that he is a much different striker to Joel Piroe, he is sharp, energetic and nimble. He showed real technical quality too when Swansea’s keeper sprung a counter-attack, aiming for Obafemi who brought the ball down over his shoulder delightfully and proceeded to attack the QPR retreating defence, eventually bringing him down. This passage of play sums up Obafemi well, direct and energetic with a shade of quality, the initial touch for example was exemplary, then it almost seemed as if he was running into a cul-de-sac, eventually doing well to secure a free-kick. His energy is both utilised in defending from the front, in a pressing sense and in an attacking sense, making himself busy and available for balls over the top and counters in particular.
Obafemi showed his excellent turn of pace, athleticism and his directness in this particular example. Obafemi looked sharp, especially when running straight at the opposition. He has the pace/ability to get by them with ease. His energy was further highlighted by the fact that he is the first to any loose balls, his stocky nature allows him to shield the ball well and get his body in front of opposition players. Although not your typical ‘hold-up man’ he does have the frame for it and could be utilised in this sense too. His energy and pace will open up space for individuals which we saw vs QPR, by Obafemi running across the defenders he allowed the LB (Laitbeaudiere) to have a free-run at goal.
In this game Obafemi made a brief cameo, not an overly fruitful cameo. Although he did have a goal disallowed in the final stages, showing eagerness, sharpness and composure in front of goal, slotting it just under QPR’s onrushing keeper. This was evident of his ability to play on the shoulder well, and perhaps showing a little bit of rawness and over-eagerness and just straying offside by an inch/two.
I felt sorry for Obafemi on the whole, Russell Martin clearly wants to play with a lone striker who holds up the ball (not Obafemi’s strongest asset). I think he would be best suited for another loan in the Championship where he can play in a 2 up front. Where he can use his speed to play on the shoulder of the last defender. When he does go back to Southampton, I think he needs a loan to a Championship side that does not play possession football in the way that Swansea City do. Obafemi is a bit too raw for the Premier League and Southampton at the minute, but clearly has a lot of ability.
Rating – B2