WBA-MAD preview: Swansea vs Albion
Joseph Chapman looks at Albion's trip to Wales
This fixture looks like one that is destined to be played out in England's top league for years to come, and an intriguing one at that.
The Swans, evolving time and again under Martinez, Sousa, Rodgers and now the great Dane Laudrup, have an expansive, possessive style of football that is easy on the eye and has won the club many admirers, while also being very effective. The Liberty Stadium was quite the fortress for the Welsh club last season, ask any Albion fan who witnessed the team in white sweep aside the team in cyan 3-0 early on. The Swans then brought their own striking away kit to The Hawthorns in February and, in the snow, came from behind to claim a 2-1 win. This, a week before that fateful day at Molineux – fateful for Mick McCarthy at least.
The Baggies similarly have continued to grow despite quite regular changes at the helm. First there was Megson (Sir Gary, to many Albion fans) who guided the club from Division 1 doom to the Premier League. Twice. Robson, Mowbray, Di Matteo and Hodgson followed. Now, the promising start to the Steve Clarke era has provided a reason to believe (or hope) that teams from the continent will grace the Black Country for the first time since the 70s in the not-too-distant future.
Michael Laudrup has doubts over Danny Graham and Jonathan de Guzman. Graham missed the draw against Liverpool on Sunday, falling ill following Swansea's victory over Newcastle. De Guzman has a hamstring problem which forced him to be substituted at the weekend. Michel Vorm remains out, but Luke Moore should be available to face his old club. Ben Davies will continue to deputise for long term absentee Neil Taylor – the youngster looking very promising in the early stages of his career.
The Baggies have ruled out number one keeper Ben Foster, who looks to require more groin surgery. Boaz Myhill will continue to deputise. Youssouf Mulumbu and Jonas Olsson are the others that have a chance, both suffering from hamstring complaints in recent weeks and Clarke will assess both in training today. Craig Dawson is back in training. Everyone else is available.
- Swansea have won three of the last four meetings, including a comprehensive double over Albion last season. (0-1 Beattie; 3-0 Sinclair, Lita, Dyer; 1-2 Fortune, Sigurdsson, Graham)
- The only away side to have won at the Liberty Stadium in the last ten fixtures to is Everton (0-3).
- Albion last won at the Liberty in 2010 running out 2-0 victors. A Graham Dorrans’ penalty and Ishmael Miller sealing an important win.
- Players to have played for both: Craig Beattie, Luke Moore, Ashley Williams.
- A promising stat for the Throstles is that no team who has managed 26 points from their opening 13 matches has finished any lower than 9th in Premier League history.
- Albion have not won five in a row in the top division since 1979.
- Swansea have not gone 5 unbeaten in the Premier League before but can do so by avoiding defeat tomorrow.
- Michu and Shane Long both have 7 goals this season and are their club's top scorers.
I feel that this rests on the fitness of Jonas Olsson and Youssouf Mulumbu, from an Albion perspective. Michu has been impressive so far, his aerial ability and threat of scoring means the Baggies' back line has their work cut out. Full backs Jones and Ridgewell will also have to contain Routledge and Pablo.
With a fully fit squad I fancy us for a point, but otherwise I think the Swans might nick it - I'm happy to be proven wrong though!
Source: WBA MAD
Related West Bromwich Albion News