Result needed for Swans versus Baggies

Posted by Max Hicks

Stu Forster/Getty ImagesWilfried Bony should be rested and ready for Swansea's match with West Brom.

Last season, West Brom became Swansea's closest rival in the standings. In fact, a wrongly disallowed Swans goal in the away fixture late in the season gave Albion a 2-1 win which proved decisive as the Midlands club finished one place higher in the table than Swansea. It's still too early this season to determine whether these clubs will share the same aspirations this season, but the Swans will be looking to put at least a point next to their name in the table come Sunday afternoon.

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Swansea's task should be made easier by Romelu Lukaku's departure from Albion back to parent club Chelsea. Without the imposing Lukaku, West Brom's attack has so far been rendered impotent -- the Baggies have yet to score in league play this season. Meanwhile, Swansea have added a player in a similar mold to the big Belgian -- Wilfried Bony is another sizeable, physical frontman who ought to be match ready after being allowed to sit out Thursday's Europa League fixture.

Since that match, midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng has left Swansea to join Premier league rivals Sunderland on a season-long loan. It's an interesting situation, especially if the rumours that Ki's lack of application in training was the catalyst for his move away were true. I wonder how he'll feel once he's finished his first day in the Paolo Di Canio fitness program. It could be just what he needs, but I'm guessing that Di Canio won't shackle the Korean to a defensive role, and it won't be long before Ki's performances start to ask questions of the Swans' decision.

In the meantime, the Swans will press on with a well-stocked if now slightly depleted midfield. Jonathan de Guzman remains a Michael Laudrup favourite, though he was invisible in the midweek loss to Petrolul Ploietsi, and perhaps his thigh bandage suggests he wasn't fully fit for that game. He'll have a lot to prove following Ki's move, as De Guzman's constant presence in the line-up has been the factor which has most limited Ki's opportunities.

Given West Brom's physicality -- a somewhat unheralded element of their game -- I would actually expect Jonjo Shelvey to start over De Guzman on Sunday, assuming he recovers from a knee injury in time. With Nathan Dyer still sidelined, it seems likely Pablo Hernandez and Wayne Routledge will fill out the flanks, although Alejandro Pozuelo has certainly made a case for first team inclusion. Along with Michu, Pozuelo was the Swans' best player in the Europa League fixture.

The game itself looks likely to be low scoring, given West Brom's scoring struggles and the Swans' safer away-game tactical approach. Swansea could really use a result, with Liverpool and Valencia next on the fixture list. Two games into the season and no points is no reason to worry (yet), but three losses could easily become four given Liverpool's resurgence this season, and Laudrup would far rather take high team spirits into the Swans' first Europa League group game than not. All being equal, I fancy the Swans to scrape a win on Sunday. What's your prediction?


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