Rumours that Steven Caulker had picked up a knee injury that was likely to keep him out for two months was verified on Wednesday evening, shortly followed by the announcement that Rafik Halliche and Darnel Situ are unlikely to play for the club at any time soon, thanks to FIFA blocking the transfer. Thus, Swansea's defensive struggles finally peaked. Things can't get any worse! (Ashley Williams; move away from that golf cart...)
As Halliche, Situ and Caulker join Alan Tate on the unavailable list, just four realistic Premier League defenders remain in the squad: Ashley Williams, Neil Taylor, Angel Rangel and Garry Monk (assuming he plays on Saturday – reports circulating that he is likely to). Of course Fede Bessone and Jazz Richards are also available, as are those in the youth squad, though these aren't exactly mouthwatering prospects.
Kemy Agustien is also a factor in this, as he would have been available to simply slot into Caulker's place had he not picked up a hamstring injury against Arsenal.
Swansea are in dire need of a replacement – not one for the future, but one who can step in immediately. As they are permitted to sign free-agents, eyes turn to the list of misfits and has-beens who are ready to blow the dust from their boots. Names likes Sol Campbell have done the rounds with the fans. The 36-year-old clearly has the experience and, wages permitted, would be a fine replacement for Caulker. Certainly not a long term solution, but some type of pay-as-you-play deal might be worth looking at.
Another name cropped up: Marco Materazzi. The former Inter Milan and World Cup winner would add some sun-bleached glamour to the squad, with heaps of big game, big name experience, though wages again might be a problem. Personally I'd love to see this guy at Swansea!
Maybe Swansea are fine with what they have at the moment? Yes, its not an ideal situation, but a formation change could be the answer. Something like a 3-2-4-1 formation (inverted Christmas tree?):
Rangel Williams Taylor
Dyer Gower Routledge Sinclair
With Allen and Britton as holding defenders, and Taylor and Rangel making less attacking runs, there is no reason why this formation shouldn't temporarily work. I'd select Wayne Routledge over Stephan Dobbie. More than likely, this won't happen as Monk is expected to return, but the option is there.
West Brom are another team Swansea are expect to win against, in fan's and pundit's eyes alike (currently 8/5 favourites with PaddyPower). For essential confidence and points, Swansea must: a) get a goal and b) win. It's in front of another sell-out home crowd who deserve to finally see a goal.
Danny Graham must start – he needs another opportunity to score. However, should he fail to score this time, Leroy Lita should start for the next game. I know that may dent his confidence, but surely not scoring is already doing that? I'm aware some can't fathom Lita starting, but as he hasn't started a game yet nobody knows if it'll work or not.
Anyway, I might be jumping ahead too far – Graham may well score a hat-trick (80/1) and Swans will crush West Brom 3-0 (a more realistic 25/1)!
But what do we know about the opposition? Well the Baggies finished 11th in the Premier League last season and are currently 13th in the table, just a point above Swansea (lost their first three, but beat fellow newcomers Norwich 1-0 last week).
They certainly have key players that will cause Swansea's defence (or lack of it) some trouble. Peter Odemwingie is very bright up front, as is their new singing Shane Long, who was excellent for Reading last season (including against Swansea in the play-off final). At the back they're not so strong and have struggled to keep a clean-sheet under Roy Hodgson, so this may well be the game that Graham breaks his goal-scoring duck and Swansea put away all the chances they create – here's hoping.
My prediction: West Brom will score one by taking advantage of a weakened Swans back four, though everything will finally click for Swansea and they'll, once again, create plenty of opportunities and score least three! Swansea 3 – 1 West Brom (20/1).
… or it could be 0-0 again.