Andre Ayew announced his arrival on the Premier League scene with a superbly taken first goal to help Swansea City to an eye-catching opening day draw at champions Chelsea.
Freelance journalist Andrew Quandzie casts an eye over the Ghanaian’s glorious debut for Joy Sports.
Welcome to the Premier League
Ayew would have expected a difference from Lige 1 to the Premier League and it seemed initially as though the frenetic pace right from the off caught him off guard.
And the welcome to the physical side of things came with a Gary Cahill arm across the face that left him on his haunches and needing a stitch or two above the eyebrow.
But any thoughts that it would see the 25-year-old go into his shell were well and truly misguided as he grew in stature and threat and showed just why Swansea were so excited by enticing him to the Liberty.
It was a wonderful goal all round, with Jefferson Montero’s speed and service, Bafetumbi Gomis’ subtle movement and header, even Thibaut Courtois’ save was worthy of note.
But the highlight has to be the ice-cold instincts inside the box from Ayew as the ball fell to him, opting against the wild swing most would have gone for and dragging the ball back delightfully to leave John Terry flailing before a well-placed finish.
Class in a nutshell.
It’s fair to say the goal meant a lot.
Attacking players love to get up and running and getting off the mark 29 minutes into his new life – compared to 599 minutes for Marseille – will give anyone confidence.
He also seemed to realise how much it meant as he pounded his chest and slid on his knees.
The attacking threat
The presence of Ayew really adds something to Swansea. He can hug the touchline – though, not in the same explosive manner of fliers such as Jefferson Montero and Nathan Dyer – but the fact he is able to play as a striker or off a striker brings the extra penalty box threat that the side perhaps needed.
Not only does it mean Swansea can switch it up during games by playing directly behind the traditional frontman, his in-game intelligence means he knows where to go looking.
Ayew’s average position graph show him more tucked in than Montero with an example being his near post run for the goal.
And then there was that goalscorer’s composure that should suggest Swansea can expect a helping hand for Gomis.
The added extras
Swansea have signed a player of undoubted quality but they also have a team player who is far from the big time Charlie that his World Cup and Champions League pedigree could easily breed.
He offered encouragement to others, encouraged and urged against complacency rather than shouting or throwing his hands in the air in frustration.
He was willing to dig-in for the team which is a necessary fit for Swansea success, notably winning the ball back in his own half right at the death where the exertion of his first game in British football could have easily taken its toll.
Garry Monk's verdict
The Swans boss has been at pains to talk about the team effort rather than singling out individuals but it was clear he got what he was looking for – and expecting – from Ayew.
“That was a glimpse of what he can offer,” said Monk. “He’s come in and he’s been incredible.
“He’s worked extremely hard with the group and the group have worked hard with him to get him settled. It’s always good for a new player when you come into a new league – even though we knew they have great quality – to get that first goal will give him great confidence.”
More to come?
That’s what the African ace is planning as his humility and hunger for success with Swansea came across when he reflected on his eye-catching debut and spoke of the “great moment” of grabbing his first goal and helping his new side to an impressive opening day result.
“They are the champions with a great squad, but we managed to get a great result,” said Ayew. “We need to continue like that and stay positive because it can be just the beginning.
“I was very happy with my goal, particularly as the squad has really helped me out. Hopefully I will continue working hard to help the team get better.
“Bafe had a good header saved, and then I had my first shot blocked. But I got up quickly and managed to drag it and score with the second shot. It was a really great moment for myself and, more importantly, the team.
“It was my first game in the Premier League and I’m always learning. The intensity is different and I have to work hard to get better and better week-in week-out for the team.
“But my team-mates, the manager and the coaches are all pushing me to become better and raise up my game so that I can do more and more for the team.
“We must keep the spirit we have. We showed a lot of character. This is only the beginning for us.”
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