04/09/2014 13:11 BST | Updated 04/11/2014 05:59 GMT

Player Focus: Gylfi Sigurdsson Rejuvenated in Familiar Swansea Surroundings


Tottenham's spending spree last summer had a number of players fearing for their future at White Hart Lane. The money brought in from the sales of Gareth Bale, Clint Dempsey and Tom Huddlestone was re-invested back into the squad as Spurs secured the signatures of Roberto Soldado, Nacer Chadli, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela to battle it out for a regular starting spot in their attack.

One player somewhat forgotten about in the mayhem was midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson. The Icelander was André Villas-Boas' first signing as Spurs manager back in 2012, yet despite making 58 league appearances during his two-year spell in north London, the 24-year-old never really established himself as a first-team regular in N17.

In the second half of the 2011/12 season on loan at Swansea, however, Sigurdsson was a revelation in the English top-flight. In 18 league appearances, the Iceland international bagged seven goals, which attracted the interest of Spurs and Liverpool. Signing in January that term, Sigurdsson was the Swans' highest rated player (7.62) of the campaign, reflecting just how well he performed at the Liberty Stadium prior to his move to Spurs.

He has since been in similar form following his return to south Wales. Playing in a familiar system to the one he became accustomed to during his first spell with Swansea and with a manager who trusts him, Sigurdsson is unsurprisingly thriving once more. After the first three games of the season, the midfielder is Swansea's highest rated player (7.93) having played a vital role in victories over Manchester United, Burnley and West Bromwich Albion.

No player has registered more assists than Sigurdsson (four) in Europe's top five leagues, further accentuating just how important he is to Garry Monk's side. The opening day victory over United - their first at Old Trafford in the league in their history - was made possible because of him. Sigurdsson provided the assist for Ki Sung-Yueng with an impressive drop of the shoulder to drift past Chris Smalling, having found himself in space around the 18-yard box.

Ki was shockingly unmarked outside the box to sidefoot into the back of the net, though Wilfried Bony deserves credit having obstructed the run of Phil Jones, who was storming out to block the shot. His goal, the eventual winner, is the epitome of the type of player Sigurdsson is, constantly picking up dangerous positions in and around the box. Jefferson Montero's cross was overhit, but Wayne Routledge managed to keep the attack alive, heading back for Sigurdsson to slot past David De Gea to confirm the three points.


During his initial spell for Swansea, Sigurdsson became synonymous with late runs into the box, meaning the winger in possession had another option to pull back for the unmarked Icelander. His winner against United was the ideal example and the midfielder capitalised with ruthless efficiency to set Swansea on their way to three wins from three in the Premier League this season.

At Spurs, he struggled to hold down a starting spot, in part due to the managerial approach of Villas-Boas. The Portuguese utilised Gareth Bale in a more central role in his debut campaign, while last season demanded his wingers cut inside and go for goal. Sigurdsson had the ability to find space to shoot, but by the time the wide man had picked him out, the chance had come and gone. When he was passed to with time to forge an opportunity, Sigurdsson proved his worth, with strikes against Hull and Southampton last season prime examples.

This, though, isn't the case at Swansea. Sigurdsson is the creator in chief in the final third, with the attacking element of the team built around the summer arrival. Performing alongside Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge in the Swansea attack - wingers happy to run directly at goal rather than cut inside - brings out the creative best in Sigurdsson.

Only Cesc Fàbregas (four), Santi Cazorla and Riyad Mahrez (both three) have created more clear cut goalscoring opportunities than Sigurdsson (two) in the Premier League this season. With the wingers making darting runs in behind the opposition defence, Sigurdsson has the vision to spot the clever movements of Dyer and Routledge and lay on the chances for the pairing. It's little shock that three of the four goals the duo have netted between them this term have come courtesy of Sigurdsson assists.

"I enjoyed my two seasons at Tottenham, so it's difficult to leave, but as soon as I heard Swansea were interested - that was the club I wanted to play for," Sigurdsson said after his return to the Liberty Stadium was confirmed. Swansea was the team where he earned his Premier League stripes, so a move back to the Welsh club would always have appealed to him.

However, nobody envisaged that the Iceland international would make such an immediate impact at his former club. Sigurdsson has excelled following his permanent re-signing and while Swansea were tipped by some to be in a relegation dog-fight this season, the creative and goalscoring exploits of the rejuvenated midfielder have silenced the critics of both the player and the team.

How impressed have you been with Sigurdsson's return to the Liberty Stadium? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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