Just over eight years ago Swansea City were in real trouble. After enduring one of their worst seasons in football in recent times, the Welsh side were on the verge of dropping into non-league football. Only a last day victory over Hull saved them from the drop and since then they’ve slowly made the transition from League Two relegation candidates to Premier League new boys. At the beginning of last season Swansea were one of the favourites for promotion but a lack of consistency denied them of an immediate arrival into the Premier League and so they had to settle for promotion through the back door. They qualified for the play-off places via a 3rd place finish, finishing only four points behind Norwich in 2nd. Their first semi-final fixture was against Nottingham Forrest at the City where a 0-0 draw was played out, followed by the 3-1 victory for the Swans at home, a result which saw them play Reading in the final for a place in England’s top division.
In the final, it was Swansea who took the lead. Scott Sinclair opened his account with a penalty, followed by another goal a minute later, and Swansea were already beginning to look like firm favourites. Yet another goal was scored for the Swans and they were in dreamtown. 3-0 up at half-time, it would have taken a miracle for Reading to stage a comeback in such a bizarre fashion. Sure enough, they looked a side with renewed vigour during the second half and bagged themselves 2 goals inside the first 20 minutes to set up an enthralling finish. Reading continued to hastle the Swansea defence for a much sought after equaliser but it was the Swans who beat them to it. Scott Sinclair completed his hat-trick ten minutes from time as Swansea were rightfully declared Premier League newbies.
Last Season: 3rd in the Championship
Manager: Brendan Rodgers
In: Danny Graham (Watford, £3.5m), José Moriera (Benfica, undisclosed fee)
Out: Cedric Van der Gun (out of contract), Albert Serran (AEK Larnaca, free), Kerry Morgan (Neath, free), Jamie Grimes (out of contract), Darren Pratley (Bolton Wanderers, out of contract), Dorus de Vries (Wolves, free), Yves Makabu-Makalambay (out of contract).
Keys to the season
This summer Swansea have signed Danny Graham from Watford, whose rich vain of form last season landed him atop of the scoring charts, having netted 24 times in 45 games. The only worry for the Swans and football fans alike is whether or not he can repeat this form in the upcoming campaign against some of Europe’s best defences. If Graham fails to make the grade, then Swansea always have Scott Sinclair to look to for inspiration.
Swansea have also signed Benfica goalkeeper José Moreira. Moreira, having spent the majority of his life at the Portuguese outfit, became increasingly frustrated with his lack of first team opportunities – often being resorted to as third choice keeper – only ever playing in ‘dead rubbers’ or non-important games. Out of the 112 appearances he made for the Águias, 66 of them came in the 2002/03 and 2003/04 campaigns. It’ll be a battle between Vorm and Moreira for the number one jersey, which Vorm could very well win. They’ve also brought in Tottenham’s Steven Caulker, who plays at centre-back and spent the majority of last season on loan at Bristol City in the Championship, and Dutch international Michel Vorm.
Swansea will lineout in the Premier League more or less as they had in the Championship last season, varying between a 4-3-3 and the 4-2-3-1 formation. Goalkeeper Dorus de Vries – who was recruited by Wolves during this summers window – was the man in nets last season, will be replaced by Jose Moreira or Michel Vorm for the upcoming campaign.
The back-four will consist of Angel Rangel, captain Gary Monk, Ashley Williams and Alan Tate, and they will be aided by the dynamic duo of Leon Britton and Welshman Joe Allen in the heart of midfield, with Stephen Dobbie also in the centre of the park for the Swans.
Up front is where everyone is expecting goals galore with the partnership of Scott Sinclair, Nathan Dyer and / or former Watford man Danny Graham. Graham was snapped up this summer by Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers due to his explosive form last season for the Hornets, in which he averaged a goal every 1.9 games.
Scott Sinclair. Since his move from Chelsea to Swansea in August of last year, he has torn Championship defences apart, scoring 19 in 45 games for the Swans last term. The only question that remains is whether or not he can replicate this form against some of Europe’s finest defences. With the attacking flair Swansea possess up front, it’s hard to see Sinclair and Co. struggling to score goals, unlike some previously promoted teams.
MANCHESTER CITY (A), WIGAN (H), SUNDERLAND (H), ARSENAL (A), WBA (H)
Well, for their first season in the Premier League they haven’t exactly been handed an easy first few games have they? They begin the season with a visit to Eastlands, followed by a home bout against Wigan. Sunderland are next to call to the Liberty Stadium and then, after the international break, the Swans are off to London as they do battle with Arsenal at the Emirates. After that it’s back to Wales as they host West Brom in their third home game of the campaign.
Where will they finish?
Well with they striking talent they possess it’ll be hard to see them struggling to score, however it all boils down to their defence. Last season Swansea conceded 42 goals – the 2nd best in the league and only behind QPR, who finished with 32. Due to this, I reckon Swansea will survive and , dare I say it, even with a few games to spare. They’ll finish in a comfortable 13th.