Date: 7th August 2009 at 11:01am
Written by:

The long wait is soon to be over for Swansea City fans as we look forward to another exciting season in the Championship.

Swansea City have sold out their 3,136 ticket allocation to the match as Paulo Sousa’s side will be backed up a strong travelling support who no doubt will be vocal throughout the game. Leicester are also selling their tickets well and a crowd of 25,000 plus is expected.

With Roberto Martinez leaving to join Wigan Athletic, former QPR boss Paulo Sousa has arrived at the Liberty Stadium to take over as our new manager. The fans were left deflated, annoyed and let down in June when the Spaniard decided to leave and join Premiership club Wigan Athletic, but Sousa has impressed since taking over and we’re pretty much all feeling excited again about the next 9 months.

After a very respectful 8th place last year, Sousa is looking to consolidate that place and help us maintain our status as top 10 Championship side. Rather than looking to better that this year, this season will help Sousa give him an understanding of where we are in terms of our level, and how we can then move forward in the future to bring further success to the football club.

We enjoyed ‘champagne football’ last season under Roberto Martinez and we can expect to be entertained again this season with the new manager. He’s looking to continue making us play in an attractive way but of course, he’ll be bringing in his own ideas which hopefully will see us play a more direct and effective game.

We kick off our season with a tricky trip to Championship new-boys Leicester City, who won promotion in May after winning the League One title. We’ll be looking for our first opening day win since the Kenny Jackett days in 2005, when we beat Tranmere Rovers 1-0 in our first League game at the Liberty Stadium.

Vital Quotes:

Paulo Sousa

‘It’s the first game of the season, we are playing on a good pitch in front of a big crowd and all the tickets for our fans have gone,’

‘What more can you ask for than that?’

Nigel Pearson, Leicester City manager

‘Our visitors Swansea, when they got promoted, had a great first season and teams like ourselves can look at their progress as a club and think that that is certainly achievable and so I have the utmost respect for what they achieved last season. But of course now they have to regroup, they have a new manager and I am sure he will have his influence on the team so I am sure it will be an interesting game.

‘Everyone wants to get off to a positive start and I am sure they will be no different to us in that respect. They will be seeing it as an opportunity because we are a freshly promoted side but I think it is a game we can all look forward to as being a good opener.

‘Our mentality has to be the same. We can’t go into it thinking because it is a league higher we have got to play differently. We have to have that positive attitude, positive outlook and that should be how I expect us to go into it.’

Britton Expecting A Tough Start At Leicester

Leicester City Team News:

Nigel Pearson will have a near full-squad to choose from for the opening game of the season. He’ll be boosted with the recent return of Matty Fryatt, who scored 27 league goals last season to help Leicester win the League One title.

James Wesolowski is no longer available as he agreed a 6-month loan move to Hamilton Academical.

The Foxes have today signed Sunderland striker Martyn Waghorn on loan until January 11th. Fryatt is likely to be joined by Howard though in a 4-4-2 formation.

Possible Line-up:


Morrison – Hobbs – Brown – Berner

Oakley – King – Wellens – Dyer

Howard – Fryatt

Player to watch: Matty Fryatt

The striker scored 27 goals last season to help Leicester City win the League One title. He’s a big asset for the Foxes and he’s superb in and around the box. Our defence will need to keep him quiet throughout the 90 minutes.

Swansea City Team News:

Paulo Sousa will have a near full squad to choose from on Saturday. The only players missing will be midfield duo Ferrie Bodde and Darren Pratley. Bodde is still lacking fitness after a long-term injury problem while Pratley has recently had a shoulder operation.

Marcos Painter could make the bench after returning from injury but Alan Tate is most likely to keep his place at left back.

Sousa experimented with a number of formations during pre-season in order to find the one that best suits his squad. He’s likely to use a 4-5-1 system which he often used during the Summer.

Monk and Williams will partner each other again at centre back I’m sure while Rangel is hoping to be fit enough to start at right back. If not, Matty Collins and Albert Serran will compete for the place.

In midfield, Nathan Dyer and Mark Gower have staked their claim for the wing spots. Dyer has caused the opposition problems over the last few weeks with his pace, while Gower has finally found the net in a Swansea shirt – 4 times! In the centre, Leon Britton, Joe Allen, Shaun MacDonald, Andrea Orlandi, Guillem Bauza and new signing Jordi Lopez compete for a first team spot.

Up front, Gorka Pintado and Stephen Dobbie will compete to lead the line whilst Guillem Bauza has struggled to stand out in the pre-season friendlies.

Sousa will benefit from the new Football League rule this year of being able to name 7 substitutes instead of 5 in his 18-man squad.

Player to watch: Nathan Dyer

It’s difficult to point out one player to watch out for for the first game. Gorka Pintado or Stephen Dobbie, whoever gets picked could shine on Saturday, but right winger Nathan Dyer has been consistent during the Summer. His pace has caused a lot of problems to the opposition. He started his loan spell with us in January in fine form but later on in the season he began to look disinterested and his performances dropped. However, he looks like he’s raring to go this season.

Match Facts & Stats

Leicester City have gone unbeaten in the Summer of pre-season friendlies. The opposition haven’t been of any significant standard but it’ll add to their confidence as they look for a good season back in the Coca Cola Championship.

Their last match was against Real Valladolid. Matty Fryatt returned from injury to score the winning goal in a 1-0 win for the Foxes. Real Valladolid finished 16th in La Liga last term.

Other victories for Pearson’s side include a 4-0 win against Shrewsbury Town and 1-0 vs Chesterfield. Tamworth, Mansfield and Loughborough Dynamo held them to draws.

The Swans lost just the one friendly match, 2-0 against Espanyol B during the Spain Tour. We beat Palamos 2-0, Kilmarnock 4-1 and Sabadell 2-1.

We haven’t played Leicester City in a League game since 1980, the game was a 1-1 draw in Division Two.

Head to head: Leicester wins 11, Draws 8, Swansea wins 6.

Ref Watch:

Grant Hegley

2008/09 Stats: 35 Games, 48 Yellows, 2 Reds.

He was in charge of just one Swansea City match last season, when we beat Norwich City 3-2 away. He hasn’t sent a player off so far in 2009.

Match Prediction:

Leicester City will be in confident mood after last year’s success and they don’t know what it’s like to lose at home, they haven’t lost at the Walkers Stadium in 11 months. We’re never the best of starters, we lost the last 3 season-opening games. I think we’ll battle for a draw – Leicester 2-2 Swansea

Next Fixtures:

Carling Cup – Swansea vs Brighton – Tuesday 11th August.

Swansea vs Middlesbrough – Saturday 15th August.

Can’t make the game?

You can follow the game live right here on Vital Swansea as we’ll be posting updates direct from the Walkers Stadium during the game.