Jordan Ayew followed brother Andre’s footsteps to South Wales earlier this season when he joined Swansea City from Aston Villa, but can he also emulate his sibling and help the Swans avoid relegation?
When Dede moved to Swansea from Olympique de Marseille on a free transfer 18 months ago, the perception was that he was joining a club on the up. The Jacks had finished in eighth the previous season under Garry Monk, and there was a hope that the progressive young coach could guide them to even greater heights.
Yet after a slump in Autumn, Monk lost his job, and while Swansea struggled to safety under the leadership of kindly Italian Francesco Guidolin, there was a fear that—amidst a shift in club ownership and a tweak in style—they were in danger of losing their identity.
Ayew’s form in his maiden Premier League season was a key factor behind Swansea’s survival, as the Black Star bagged 12 goals as the Liberty Stadium side ended the campaign in 12th place, 10 points above the dropzone.
However, Swansea had appeared destined for a testing season after a summer in which they lost both frontman Bafe Gomis and Ayew, who joined West Ham United, while the decision to appoint Bob Bradley as Guidolin’s replacement in October—following a sluggish start to the season—was a gamble that didn’t pay off.
Despite the manful attempts of Gylfi Sigurdsson, a chronic lack of firepower and the mixed contributions of Fernando Llorente and Borja Baston left Swansea battling relegation, and the club appointed Paul Clement in January—the club’s third boss that season—in an attempt to reverse their fortunes.
The new man quickly identified the club’s lack of a goal threat as an area of weakness, and before the January transfer window was up, they’d recruited Jordan from Aston Villa.
The Black Star was one rare ray of light in the Villains’ miserable relegation campaign the season before, but despite a series of lively performances during the first-half of the season, he arrived having only scored two goals in 21 Championship appearances.
Indeed, Jordan’s taken his time to make an impact in Wales, and failed to make a decisive contribution—a goal or an assist—in his first six appearances for his new employers.
That unhappy run ended in midweek when he contributed an assist at home against Tottenham Hotpsur, a pass that had appeared destined to help the Swans to three vital points before Spurs’ late rally.
While the 3-1 defeat was a desperate conclusion for Swansea, who plunged into the dropzone after Hull’s win against Middlesbrough, Jordan will have been delighted to make his first major contribution in a league game since the end of October.
However, he must now build on that effort if Swansea are to escape from the bottom three, and an away game against West Ham and brother Andre on Saturday could be an ideal opportunity to stop the rot.
While Swansea are winless in four games, the only team with a worse record than them during this period is West Ham, with the Irons plunging worryingly close to the relegation zone after losing their last five on the bounce.
The Hammers are there for the taking, and with Jordan finding his feet, Swansea will surely fancy their chances of ending their winless run at the London Stadium on Saturday, and potentially dragging West Ham deeper into trouble.
Indeed, if Swansea win, they will find themselves two points behind the capital club.
Should that scenario come to pass, then the question may not be whether Jordan can emulate Andre and fire the Swans to safety, but whether the elder Ayew can repeat last year’s heroics all over again.