Swansea City made history last Monday night as they were the first club outside of England to play in the Premier League in a match against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. Tomorrow, history will be made again, as Swansea City welcome Wigan Athletic to the Liberty Stadium to mark the first Premier League game to take part outside of England.
Swansea City found it understandably difficult against Mancini’s superstars, which resulted in a harsh 4-0 defeat – so the Swans will be looking to bounce-back tomorrow against the kind of opposition that they will need to get points from during the course of a long difficult season.
Fellow relegation favourites – Wigan Athletic made a strong start last weekend against one of the other new-comers to the Premier League Norwich City in a 1-1 draw at the DW Stadium. Viktor Moses looked sharp and confident going forward offering penetration in the final third, in an attack that is without Charles N’Zogbia now he has signed for Aston Villa. Wigan Athletic found it very difficult last season in the Premier League scoring goals, with Hugo Rodallega top scoring for the Latics with 9 goals in 36 appearances.
Much of the pre-match talk this week has revolved around the Wigan manager Roberto Martinez. He of course left Swansea City as manager to join the Latics in 2009, taking all the back-room staff with him in the process. Will the Swansea fans welcome Martinez back with open arms in acknowledgement for his time as a player, captain and manager of the Swans? Or, will the chants of ‘El Judas’ ring around the Liberty Stadium? One thing that is certain, the passionate Swansea fans will need to concentrate on supporting their team as they aim to get off the mark and pick up a valuable 3 points.
“It is going to be a great occasion and I am just grateful that destiny is going to bring me down there for the opening Premier League game at the Liberty Stadium.
“In an ideal world, I would get a good reception from fans who appreciate what I have done. But I don`t think it works like that.
“The reality is I don`t know what sort of reception I will get.
“I expect a group of fans who will let me know they are not happy. Others have always been supportive because they know I gave my life while I was there as a player and a manager.
“I cannot control the reaction of the fans or their feelings. But I will respect their opinions and their feelings.”
“I was very fortunate because I took over at the Liberty Stadium, But I was a player when we were at the Vetch Field and 2002-03 was a difficult time.
“We were bottom of the old Third Division. We had to beat Hull in the last game of the season to stay up and since then the club has gone to a different dimension.
“We all suffered. There were many sleepless nights. But at the same time something special started at the club.
“I am proud, satisfied and happy that Swansea are in the Premier League. It is a phenomenal achievement.
“At the time I took over we were a mid-table side in League One and I felt we had to change the way we played.
“We could not compete with other clubs financially and we had to be creative.
“We found the way and since then there has been a real belief in the way Swansea play.
“Their football genes are very pure and their concept is fantastic. That has developed and is why they will be successful in the Premier League.
Brendan Rodgers speaking about his opposite number:
‘He’s made a valuable contribution to the club.’
‘As a manager he set in place a way of playing and he brought his own identity to the group.
‘If you look at Roberto’s time here he had a fantastic period and I think everyone acknowledges that. I know he thinks a lot of Swansea.
‘I’m sure there will be some supporters who may well be upset. I would say to the supporters to give him a good reception and then as soon as the game starts you throw everything into Swansea again.’
Swansea City Team News:
Left Back Neil Taylor will be available for selection after serving his 3 match ban following his red card against Nottingham Forest in the semi-final of the play-offs last season. Captain Gary Monk faces a late fitness test following his 90 minutes in the mid-week reserve 2-1 win against Bolton.
Player to watch: Leon Britton
This will very much be a team effort and a number of individuals in the Swansea team can turn the game on its head, but I think this will match will be won in midfield, so the efforts of Leon Britton and Joe Allen spreading the play out and dictating the pace of the game is key.
Wigan Athletic Team News:
No noticeable injury news for Wigan, so they will have a probable unchanged side that drew with Norwich City, although, Hugo Rodallega may well make an appearance from the bench if he’s deemed fit enough after the exploits of Columbia in the Copa America.
Player to watch: Di Santo
Di Santo showed glimpses of good movement against Norwich at the weekend and undoubtedly has the ability to make something happen, he will get a chance at goal – but can he finish?
Match Facts & Stats
Wigan are unbeaten in their last 5 Premier League games and beat Swansea 2-0 at the DW Stadium in last season’s Carling Cup tie. In total the two sides have gone head to head on 19 occasions, Latics having a slight edge with 10 wins to Swansea’s 7. Swansea kept 21 clean sheets at home in the Championship last season. Swansea are the bookies favourites at 11/10 for a home win, while you can get an away win at 12/5 and a draw 12/5.
Phil Dowd. The 48 year old Premier League referee has taken charge of two games this season – the Community Shield, which ended 3-2 to Manchester United where he issued 7 yellow cards and no red cards and the game at Anfield between Liverpool and Sunderland where he showed 8 yellow cards and no red cards.
I can see a home win and with Swansea winning 1-0 at 6/1 with the bookmakers, it looks a good solid bet. I don’t see Wigan having enough of the ball to pose a sustained threat. So I’m backing Danny Graham to bag Swansea City’s first Premier League goal and the magnificent Michel Vorm to pick up Swansea’s first clean sheet this term.
Saturday 27th August
Swansea City vs Sunderland AFC 3pm