Sport Soccer

Monday 1 May 2017

Paul Clement sees Stoke match as 'must-win' for struggling Swansea

Etienne Capoue hit the only goal of the game as Watford beat Swansea on Saturday
Etienne Capoue hit the only goal of the game as Watford beat Swansea on Saturday

Swansea boss Paul Clement believes the visit of Stoke next weekend is a "must-win" game for his side as they remain embroiled in the battle for Premier League survival.

The Swans lost 1-0 at Watford in a poor game on Saturday afternoon, Etienne Capoue scoring the only goal after robbing Alfie Mawson of possession on the edge of the penalty area.

Mawson's dawdling proved costly as the Hornets saw out the game to take the win and move on to 40 points, all-but assuring themselves of another season in the top flight.

But the defeat, a fifth in six games, leaves Swansea inside the bottom three and two points from safety with just five fixtures remaining.

They welcome Stoke to the Liberty Stadium in a week's time, and Clement feels his side need to take all three points after the Potters beat 17th-placed Hull to keep the gap at two points.

"I believe it is a must-win game," he said.

"With five games to go we are more than likely going to need to win three of those, and who will know if even that will be enough.

"I believe we can win three out of five games, we have won four out of six. It is an absolute must-win against Stoke next Saturday.

"Hull haven't won so that is a bonus but also a missed opportunity, as if we had got the result we would have got out of the bottom three."

Clement was less than impressed with Mawson's error and revealed the 23-year-old was feeling the pain of costing his side at least a share of the spoils at Vicarage Road.

"He's very disappointed. He knows he made a big mistake and we hope he won't do that ever again," Clement said.

"My assessment is that overall defensively in the game we were okay. It is clear what happened with the goal. It was an individual error and it came at a bad time. It is not something you expect from your central defender in that area of the pitch

"It was a better performance than last week at West Ham, more spirit and confidence in the players but not the quality where it was needed.

"When you have gone six games and you have picked up one point, confidence can be affected and has been affected, but we have to deal with that. With five games to go we have to find some confidence and find that extra bit of quality, keep going and going."

While Watford remain in the top half of the table and reached 40 points, the much-heralded total that many believe is enough to survive, manager Walter Mazzarri insists the Hornets are not safe.

Asked if 40 points would be enough, he said: "No. Until the maths and the numbers say we are not safe then we are not safe.

"I always say that we try to reach the maximum we can. We have to do this for the next games and this is the mentality I want to give to my players.

"With all that has happened this season, to have 40 pints with six games to go is a good record.

"There will be all finals from here until the end. We will fight in all games like we did today. If we do this I don't know where we will be until the end of the season but that will be the mentality."

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