Saturday, 11 February 2017

Swans v Leicester: Relegation Battle Commence

Ties don’t get much more important for Swansea right now: Leicester City at home with both sides level on points and skirting dangerously close to the relegation zone – this is what Super Sundays were made for!

Three points will be enough for the Swans to at least leapfrog Leicester but it might also see us move above lacklustre Middlesbrough. Manager of the month Paul Clement has told the press he wants the team to make the home field advantage count – Leicester’s pitch is substantially wider than at the Liberty thanks to their Champion’s League endeavours this year.

Ideally, we can limit Leicester’s wide play to nullify the threat of Riyad Mahrez and Christian Fuchs from full back. It may not seem like much, but a pitch that’s a few yards narrower than a club is accustomed to can make it incredibly difficult to play their normal game – great news for us.

The news that seems to have kept Swansea in the print media this week comes courtesy of Jordan Ayew. The Ghana international agreed his deal on Deadline Day and is back from the Africa Cup of Nations ready to make his Swans debut. Ayew might not have made headlines for Aston Villa but I can see him turning a trick for us; we play his preferred game: keep the ball on the deck, pass and move.

Leicester are also off the back of the only FA Cup Fourth Round replay against Derby. The Foxes won the game in extra time but several first team players were included in the squad – three days rest might not be enough for them to fully recover and Ranieri will need to rotate once again.

It looks as though Ki, Montero and Britton will be absent for Swansea with a knee, hamstring and calf issue respectively. This isn’t too much of a concern thanks to Carroll’s emergence as a key player and Llorente remembering his shooting boots – we can field a side to worry Leicester here.

Schmeichel, Huth, Morgan, Drinkwater, Mahrez and Vardy are all expected to earn recalls to the team after the FA Cup tie and Demarai Gray is pushing hard for a starting place. Slimani and Ulloa are out with injury but Molla Wague could be involved after missing the Derby game for a ridiculous reason.

Apparently, and I didn’t know this, if a player signs after a domestic cup match is drawn and a replay is incurred – they cannot play in the replay as they weren’t available for the original game. Sounds daft to me but the FA do as they please I suppose.

Annoyingly, Mahrez netted a hat trick against us in this fixture last season so it’ll be down to Olsson to keep the Algerian as quiet as possible. I don’t care if he doesn’t go near another player; his threat needs to be quashed.

We can win this game, that’s painfully obvious, but I’m going to be conservative and back Swansea to win 2-1. I’ve just got a feeling about a late winner and can wholly see Ayew netting it on his debut.

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