Swansea V Arsenal at Liberty Stadium : Match Preview
14 January 2012 03:01
Rodgers calls for Capello
Manager Brendan Rodgers believes his Swansea side are brimming with confidence ahead of their clash with Arsenal, and feels England manager Fabio Capello should come and see the evidence for himself.
The south Wales club were written off as certain relegation fodder following their promotion from the npower Championship, but they have won praise for their attractive style and they lie 12th in the Barclays Premier League table, seven points above the drop zone.
One of the key elements of an impressive campaign to date has been a home record that has seen them suffer just one defeat and concede only four goals.
A result of Swansea's fine performances, added to by an excellent draw against Tottenham and a first away win of the season at Aston Villa, has seen the likes of Steven Caulker, Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer being mentioned as potential England internationals.
And Rodgers feels Capello may be surprised to find some candidates for his Euro 2012 squad on display, should he choose to make a visit to south Wales.
"I certainly think he would be very surprised coming here," said Rodgers.
"I am sure he has seen some games on the television but it would be fantastic for him to come and look at a club like this that may not be the most fashionable, but it is a club where players have shown they can grace this level and number of them have shown that they could step onto another level."
He added: "I have gifted players here who could play for big teams, they are not at a glamour club but if there is a style suited to international football this is it, and I am confident my players could step up.
"Someone like Danny Graham who can run and move and score goals, or someone like Scott Sinclair who is not only a fantastic winger but a specialist penalty taker. He hasn't missed one, and at big tournaments you are looking for specialists.
"Nathan Dyer has scored in two of the last three games. He was fantastic against Villa facing Stephen Warnock, who was seen as an England full-back not long ago, so that's the improvement we are making."
Rodgers has almost a full squad to select from. He is set to make changes from the side that beat Barnsley in the FA Cup with the likes of Michel Vorm, Joe Allen, Steven Caulker and Scott Sinclair likely to return to the starting line-up, while Gylfi Sigurdsson could be handed a full debut in midfield.
Long-term absentee Alan Tate is on the comeback trail after featuring for the reserves in midweek, four months after suffering a broken leg, but is a few weeks away from a return to first-team action.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels midfielder Aaron Ramsey is growing with every game he plays as the Wales captain prepares to tackle the Swans.
The 21-year-old has grabbed his opportunity this season, stepping into a regular first-team place alongside Mikel Arteta and Alex Song following the summer sale of Cesc Fabregas and injury to Jack Wilshere.
Wenger was always confident the former Cardiff trainee could make the step up in class, all the more remarkable in the wake of his horrendous leg injury in February 2010.
"I brought him in because of his quality," said the Arsenal manager.
"People forget about Ramsey is that this is his first full season really.
"For me, he is growing month to month and people are a bit impatient with him.
"I am very happy with what he is delivering - and if Wilshere comes back [soon] they can play together."
Ramsey has been outspoken in his views over the future of Wales following the death of manager Gary Speed.
Wenger is impressed with how Ramsey has taken such an important role in his stride.
"Aaron has personality," said the Arsenal manager.
"He is a bit young [to be a captain], because it is a massive responsibility for a player that age with the little experience he has.
"However, he can take pressure so he will grow very quickly in this role and he will be a great captain for Wales."
Captain Robin van Persie will return to the squad following an extended break.
Thierry Henry, on loan from the New York Red Bulls, will again be in contention having come off the bench to score in the FA Cup win over Leeds, while defender Johan Djourou is available after suspension.
Midfielder Tomas Rosicky and centre-back Per Mertesacker are battling to overcome a virus.
Strikers Marouane Chamakh and Gervinho are away at the African Nations Cup. Defenders Francis Coquelin (hamstring), Thomas Vermaelen (calf), Kieran Gibbs (groin), Bacary Sagna (ankle), Carl Jenkinson (back) and Andre Santos (ankle) are all still out, along with midfielders Abou Diaby (hamstring) and Jack Wilshere (ankle).