So, shit introductions aside and Swansea City are back playing this weekend following what has essentially been two weeks off. They're playing away, they're playing Stoke and they're playing for the win.
Whereas Swansea's last international flight was a week ago, returning from a relaxing break in Tenerife, Stoke's last flight was probably this morning after retuning from their 1-0 Europa-League-exiting defeat to Valencia last night. Swansea, despite having to travel to the Britannia Stadium, should have a more relaxed air about them.
They'll need it after their last match. The game against Norwich was the first in a long time that Swansea visibly lacked composure. Yes, it's been put to bed now, but Stoke will surely have taken note of it and will know that to win, all they must do is ruffle Swansea's usual cool, calm game.
Stoke, as everyone is quick to point out, are very heavy handed. They have the height and physical advantage and have as much to play for as the Swans (both teams on 30 points at the moment). The Swans, as many more will be equally quick to point out, can out-pass Stoke all day long. In fact they've done so already this season, winning 2-0 in the Liberty against them in October.
A win on Sunday would probably see Swansea hold onto 11th place in the table – not a bad position. If things don't go as planned and they lose, Swansea could well fall to 15th. While that wouldn't necessarily be a dire situation, it's certainly the wrong end of the table to be finishing the weekend in, especially ahead of the upcoming game against Man City.
We can be thankful that there are no testing injury worries for Brendan Rodgers, so he has much to chose from. On Sunday I'd go with:
Rangel, Caulker, Williams, Taylor
Dyer, Britton, Allen, Agustien, Routledge
Kemy Agustien and Joe Allen were both missed in the Norwich game, but need to be included this time: Allen for his ball winning and Agustien just for his size and physical nature. However, there is news that Agustien has picked up a knock in training – if that's the case and he's sitting this one out, Sigurdsson is certainly the man to bring in. On the wing, I'd start Routledge for a change as Sinclair seems slightly off form (though he'd be a great sub to bring on to add speed when legs get tired). The rest goes without saying.
Onto predictions: I see a Swansea away win. 1-0. I think that ends this blog post.
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