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Ice creamed – why Gylfi Sigurdsson is making a mess of your pants

Iceland: home of volcanoes, vigorous daytime drinking and yetis. Ok, we don’t know much about Iceland, but we do know that Gylfi Sigurdsson must now be about as popular over there as whale meat kebabs, hot ponds and, let’s say werewolves. Or bobble hats. Something like that.

by Andrew Boulton | November 3, 2014

We’ve all heard the stats. Seven assists in his first 10 Premier League games, the only player to have covered more than 13km in a game this season, two goals from two shots in Iceland’s already famous victory over the Netherlands. There’s a good case to suggest Tottenham’s decision to part with Gylfi Sigurdsson might be their worst piece of recent business – a staggering assessment made all the more staggering each and every time Roberto Soldado clumsily swings either one of his £13million legs.

This is not new news. Twirl a bag of snooker balls around the footballing world and you’d hit at least 12 critics who would gladly tell you that Sigurdsson is playing incredibly well. The majority of those observers would also, most likely, suggest that he is playing too well for Swansea.

While it’s always tempting to wish excellent players like Sigurdsson away from the mid-table badger fight, in this case it’s rather unkind to the role Swansea have played in his return to form. (It also does not give due credit to the Swans’ own ascent into the juicier regions of the league table.) Once again, creepy Uncle Stat pops over for a visit, nudging us in the direction of Sigurdsson’s figures for creating chances. His first season at Swansea saw him create 2.8 goal scoring opportunities on average each game.

This season it is 2.6. And yet sandwiched between these impressive figures, during his time at Spurs his average for creating chances was never more than 0.6. Of course Tottenham had a habit of buying attacking midfielders like your gran buys Gaviscon, meaning that Gylfi often found himself stranded out on the wing.

Under Garry Monk he is utilised as their central attacking midfielder – the crafty arctic fox trotting behind the bludgeoning, bear-like force of Wilfried Bony. But even more than a change in position, it’s Monk’s change in style that has most helped to unleash the best of Gylfi.

Shaving around 10% off Swansea’s average pass count per game, Monk has taken the pretty, but sometimes purposeless, football of Michael Laudrup and pointed it firmly towards the goal.

It means Gylfi’s role is one of darting into spaces and picking out passes so delicious they might as well be made from Coco Pops. Compare it to last season when that number 10 role was occupied by the more angry-moose-in-an-infant-school approach of Jonjo Shelvey and Gylfi’s contribution becomes even more apparent.

Gylfi is being praised highly and often, and unlike a lot of players who find themselves wading briefly through the sticky bog of form, there appears to be nothing temporary about this dramatic rise in performance. So like incompetent banking and, say, mittens, Gylfi Sigurdsson is another Icelandic import making quite the impression on us all.

Follow Andrew Boulton on Twitter here

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