Swans primed to finish with a flourish

Posted by Max Hicks

GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty ImagesMichael Laudrup's Swansea can finish as high as eighth in the Premier League table should they beat Fulham and see other results fall their way.

By Sunday evening, Swansea will know whether they've finished eighth or ninth place in the Premier League, but either way, Michael Laudrup's side will have eclipsed last season's 11th place finish to cap off the Swans' most successful ever season.

- Michu: I'm staying at Swansea

A win over Sunday's opponents, Fulham, coupled with a draw or loss for West Brom (who host Manchester United in what will be Sir Alex Ferguson's last ever game in charge) will see the Swans reach eighth place, while any other realistic permutation of results will see the Swans stay in ninth. Even if Swansea lose and 10th placed West Ham United beat Reading by a massive goal differential, the Swans will end no worse than 10th, which is still a place better than last season.

Having already secured a good finish, Swansea will want to play out the season with a performance befitting a highly successful centenary year. The Swans might have only won once in their last nine games, but they played well at Old Trafford against Manchester United last week and should be more than ready to make a strong last impression this season.

With the exception of Ki Sung-Yueng, who is still nursing a hip injury, Michael Laudrup will have a full squad from which to select his starting XI, which probably means a run out for the 'three wingers' formation, with Michu up front. Winger Roland Lamah is officially fit again, and so will likely see some late game action from the bench, while goalkeeper Michel Vorm ought to return from a minor head injury. Neil Taylor might be in line for his first full senior start since returning from a horrific ankle injury sustained last September.

With neither side having much to play for -- Swansea nor Fulham can be relegated or achieve a European berth regardless of the result -- we should see the Swans at their adventurous, attacking best, particularly given the fixture will be played at the Liberty Stadium. Fulham, and manager Martin Jol in particular, might approach the game with somewhat less abandon. A loss for the London side might see Fulham finish one place above the relegation zone, depending on results elsewhere, a turn of events which could prompt the Fulham board to reconsider the Dutchman's future.

Another minor storyline worth keeping an eye on will be whether Swansea can become the first side since Charlton Athletic in the 2004-05 campaign to go a whole season without being awarded a penalty. The referee for the game will be Lee Mason, who interestingly was in charge when the Swans lost to West Brom 2-1, a game which should have ended 2-2 had Roland Lamah's late goal not been wrongly disallowed for offside. Of course, that decision was made by the assistant referee (linesman in old money), but if the Swans ever felt they were owed something, Sunday's game seems to be set up nicely for it.

It's been a terrific season for Swansea. With a comfortable home fixture against a decent side to finish things off, I expect Laudrup's boys will be happy to make this season's swansong a memorable one.

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