The long wait is finally over as Swansea City become the first Welsh club ever to experience Premier League football as they kick off their top flight season with a tough trip to title-contenders Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium (8pm).
The pre-season of friendly matches, new signings, goodbyes to players, endless transfer rumours, and changing internet bookmarks to Premiership websites is finally over as Swans face their biggest challenge yet.
With Sky Sports showing the match live, the game is moved two days back to a Monday evening kick off which will complete the opening Premier League weekend, which saw last season’s Championship title-winners lose 4-0 against Bolton, while Norwich City would have been delighted to get an opening day point against Wigan Athletic.
Can Swansea City be the only promoted team to get all three points in their first game? Realistically, you’d have to say no against a Manchester City side full of multi-million pound stars, two of which are unlikely to feature, Argentine duo Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero – the latter is likely to make the bench.
The 12/1 odds on a Swansea City amongst the bookmakers just demonstrates how difficult it will be to get a result at the Etihad Stadium tomorrow night, but there’s no reason why we can’t cause an upset against Mancini’s team who haven’t won their opening game of the season at home the last 5 times – drawing in each one. The opening day stats doesn’t look good for the Swans though. They have an awful record of losing the last 5.
‘It is also difficult when you start the season against a team who have just come up from the Championship, such as Swansea.
‘ ’Last year, West Brom and the other teams who came up from the Championship were very, very hard to play against in the first 10 games.’
‘It will be the same this year. Monday will probably be really difficult, because it’s an important game for Swansea – their first in the Premier League’ .
’I have watched Swansea many times and they play good football. They don’t play the long ball. They have good players.
‘ ’And Brendan Rodgers has done well because he has taken them up from the Championship playing good football. They will make it tough for us.
‘ ’But this is why the Premier League is difficult, because every game is hard.’
Manchester City Team News:
Record signing Sergio Aguero is likely to be on the bench as boss Mancini says he can only play 45 minutes maximum due to lack of fitness. Fellow Argentine is likely to miss out for the same reason.
Dzeko could start up front instead as well as Balotelli.
Joe Hart in goal, plus the likes of Lescott and Richards to get through in the City defence, while in midfield, Swansea will have to manage the playmaking passing work of Gareth Barry and the tough tackling Yaya Toure.
Player to watch: Vincent Kompany
From Vital Manchester City:
Since he arrived from Hamburg in 2008 Vincent has been pure class. He is a role model and holds the back line like a limpet holds on to the bow of a boat.
Last weekend’s cock-up against United in the Community Shield when Nani got the better of him was just a blip and the incident is now just a distant memory.
The 25-year-old currently captains the team, following the uncertainly regarding Carlos Tevez’s future and I for one hope he continues to carry the armband for years to come.
Swansea City Team News:
Michel Vorm could make his Swansea City debut in goal having joined the club on Wednesday. Garry Monk is highly unlikely to feature with a foot injury which will mean Williams partnering Spurs loanee Caulker in the centre of defence with Rangel at right back and Alan Tate replacing the suspended Neil Taylor on the opposite side.
Brendan Rodgers has a few more headaches for the midfield. Nathan Dyer and Scott Sinclair will occupy the wings but the Swans may turn to Kemy Agustien to give his side some strength in the middle, as opposed to using both Leon Britton and Joe Allen together. Attacking midfielder Stephen Dobbie may be used an option from the bench. Danny Graham is likely to start up front ahead of fellow new signing Leroy Lita. Another new arrival, Wayne Routledge from Newcastle United will also have to be content with a place on the bench.
Player to watch: Michel Vorm
Holland’s number 1 goalkeeper is Swansea’s best Summer signing in my view. He has an excellent all-round game and I feel he will have a lot to do on Monday night, and we’ll definitely see his shot-saving qualities – not to mention the quick reactions he has in the box.
Match Facts & Stats
Swansea City haven’t beaten Manchester City away for 50 years.
In 20 head-to-head meetings, Swansea have won 6 with 2 draws.
Joe Hart kept 18 clean sheets in the Premier League last season, the highest in the division. Swansea kept 21 in the Championship last year.
In a site poll, 37% are confident of a Swansea win, 32% predicting a draw and 31% voting for a home win.
Manchester City finished 3rd in the Premier League last season and they’ll be aiming for even higher this year. They won 21 games, losing just 9 and conceding 31 goals, 8 less than title winners and rivals Manchester United.
MIke Dean, I’ll say no more. We all know about him and the amount of times he’s done us over. His latest was sending off Neil Taylor in the Championship play-off semi-final, but on balance he probably deserved it.
A lot of Swansea City fans are confident of shock result away at Manchester City on Monday night, they’re feeling very upbeat after such an incredible achievement of winning promotion. But I have to remain realistic and think that Man City will be far too strong for us at the Etihad Stadium. Mancini may have admitted his team aren’t 100% yet but what team is in the first game of the season. Swansea City have a few new signings and it’ll be interesting to see how quickly they can settle in a new team. Can Graham deliver the goals early on and how will Caulker cope in defence with a lack of first team experience?
Manchester City 3-1 Swansea City.
Predict the score in the Prediction League here
Saturday 20th August
Swansea City vs Wigan Athletic