Swansea V Stoke at Liberty Stadium : Match Preview

10 November 2013 08:58
Swansea V Stoke - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Davies hoping to end "mini-slump"

Ben Davies hopes Swansea can put an end to their difficult recent run with victory over Stoke on Sunday.

Thursday's 1-1 draw with Kuban Krasnodar in the Europa League, which saw the Russian club grab a stoppage-time equaliser against the Swans for a second time in a fortnight, means Swansea have won just two of their last nine games in all competitions.

Ibrahima Balde's strike was particularly galling as it prevented the Welsh club nailing down a place in the last 32 of the tournament, and came just days after the crushing disappointment of the south Wales derby defeat at Cardiff.

But a win over Mark Hughes' Potters would be a timely boost ahead of the international break and halt what left-back Davies described as a "mini-slump".

The Wales international said: "We have not had much of a look at Stoke yet as we had the game in Russia to think about, but we will now fully concentrate on working to our strengths and the way we can beat them.

"It's been a hard week for us so it would be nice to finish it with three points on Sunday.

"It's an important game because it gives us a chance to get out of the mini-slump we are in and get the fans back on side.

"But every team will go through a difficult run this season, everybody is desperate for that win, but no-one is at the stage where they are panicking."

The manner of Steven Caulker's winner for Cardiff last Sunday again highlighted Swansea's occasional fragility from set-pieces, and left captain Ashley Williams fuming.

Stoke are likely to provide a similarly stern test in that facet of the game, but Davies believes there has been a significant improvement in how Swansea defend such situations.

"Everyone knows how good Stoke are at set-pieces," he said. "But we have only conceded one goal from set-pieces so far this season and that was a simple case of someone getting a run on their man and winning the header.

"We have looked pretty comfortable I think, it is something we need to keep going on Sunday and make sure we don't give them any chances.

"Having said that, we can't kid ourselves and say there has not been a problem over the last year and probably our one-on-one defending has not been strong enough.

"Our coaches are working us as hard as we can to sort it out and, if someone does score, make sure it is a proper fight for them."

Swansea will be without goalkeeper Michel Vorm as the Dutchman serves a one-match ban following his red card at Cardiff.

Gerhard Tremmel will deputise for Vorm, while Jonjo Shelvey should return having missed the Europa League trip to Kuban Krasnodar due to personal reasons.

Michu and Pablo Hernandez remain on the sidelines with ankle and thigh problems respectively, while Jordi Amat is pushing to partner Williams at the heart of the Swans' defence.

Stoke midfielders Glenn Whelan and Jon Walters returned to training on Friday after being sidelined this week with hamstring and thigh injuries respectively, with boss Hughes to take stock of the duo ahead of the game.

Defender Erik Pieters, meanwhile, failed to complete Friday's training session due to a back niggle and will also be under observation ahead of facing the Swans.

Stoke manager Hughes has warned Swansea counterpart Michael Laudrup to underestimate the Potters at his peril on Sunday.

On the back of a seven-match winless run, and with Hughes attempting to still get his ideas across after taking over from Tony Pulis in the summer, Laudrup may consider this an ideal time to play Stoke.

That would especially be the case with the Swans looking to bounce back from defeat to Cardiff, and in the wake of a long European trip to Russia.

"Other clubs might be thinking it's a good time to play us if they haven't done their homework and haven't looked at each and every game we've played and the way we've played," Hughes said.

"If they look solely at the stat that we haven't won in seven games then people would probably assume it's a good time to play us and that we are a struggling side

"But if you actually look at how we've played, certainly in away games in recent times such as Fulham and Manchester United - where everybody and his dog thought we should have got something from that - then you wouldn't come to that conclusion."

Source: PA