Swansea City make their return to first team action, after having a valuable rest period over the FA Cup fixtures, travelling to the Britannia Stadium to face Stoke this afternoon.
The two teams have distinctively contrasting styles with Swansea’s tiki taka ethos over Stoke’s brute force method of wrestling a result over their opposition. When the two sides met last year it was the Swans who had the edge with an early penalty from Scott Sinclair and a late finish from Danny Graham to tie up the victory.
With Swansea’s misfortunes on the road plus the physical presence of a mostly rested Stoke side, after manager Tony Pulis took a weakened side to the Mestalla in their Europa League 2nd leg tie against Valencia, it could be a hard day’s work for the visitors.
However the fortress walls at the Britannia are starting to crumble for Stoke. You have to go back as far as 11th December 2011 to find Stoke’s last home win, which was an excellent 2-1 victory of Tottenham, and it’s been downhill since for the Potters.
The game may also act as a platform for two players to stake their claim to a now vacant position up front for England after Darren Bent was taken off injured in Aston Villa’s goalless draw against Wigan yesterday. Stoke’s Peter Crouch is no stranger to international competition but Swansea’s Danny Graham, the second highest English goalscorer in the league, has also been heavily touted. Interim manager Stuart Pearce will no doubt already have his reserve players noted but a stand out performance from either player could sway his decision.
Stoke will be without Robert Huth as he finishes his 3 match ban however the suspension Rory Delap incurred during their victory over Crawley in the FA Cup was successfully appealed.
Long term absentee, and former Swansea player, Mamady Sidibe also continues his run on the sidelines with a knee injury.
Swansea midfielder Joe Allen will face a late fitness test but is expected to be part of the starting line up this afternoon after recovering from his hamstring injury which could force Chelsea loanee Josh McEachran back to the bench. Brendan Rodgers could be without his physical presence in midfield, in the form of Kemy Agustien (ankle), plus Andrea Orlandi (hamstring) could also miss out on the trip.
Ferrie Bodde continues his stint on the sidelines with his long term knee problem.
Stoke (from): Begovic, Collins, Whelan, Jones, Fuller, Wilson, Diao, Pennant, Shawcross, Whitehead, Walters, Upson, Delap, Crouch, Etherington, Nash, Wilkinson, Sorensen, Shotton, Arismendi, Jerome, Woodgate, Palacios, Clarkson, Moult, Dawson.
Expected line-up: Begovic, Wilkinson, Upson, Shawcross, Wilson, Pennant, Whelan, Whitehead, Etherington, Jones, Crouch.
Swansea (from): Vorm, Williams, Taylor, Caulker, Tate, Britton, Orlandi, Graham, Sinclair, Dyer, Dobbie, Routledge, Monk, McEachran, Lita, Moore, Bessone, Moreira, Rangel, Situ, Allen, Tremmel, Agustien, Gower, Obeng, Richards, Davies, Walsh, Thomas, Smith, Edwards, March, Rory Donnelly, Sigurdsson.
Expected line-up: Vorm, Taylor, Williams, Caulker, Rangel, Allen, Britton, Sigurdsson, Sinclair, Dyer, Graham.
Prediction: 1 – 1 – a hard fought draw for the Swans would be an excellent result but the tricky moves of Sinclair and Dyer could force some mistakes from the Potters.
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