Meet the opposition | Stoke City
As Swansea City prepare to take on Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium, we take a closer look at the former and history of the Potters.
What’s their story?
After a 10-year stint in the Premier League, Stoke are now in their third season back in the Championship after suffering relegation from the top-flight alongside the Swans in 2018.
Tony Pulis guided them to an FA Cup final appearance in 2011, which led to a Europa League campaign, before Mark Hughes oversaw three successive ninth-place finishes in the top-flight.
A 1972 League Cup victory brought them their only piece of major silverware, but their attempts to return to the Premier League have not matched expectations after keeping together what looks a strong squad on paper.
How's their form?
Stoke have endured a difficult run of recent form, winning just two of their last 13 Championship fixtures.
However, those victories did come in their recent home fixtures against Sheffield Wednesday and Luton Town.
Those wins are the only ones picked up so far in 2021, and they have taken 10 points from a possible 33 in the calendar year.
Who’s the boss?
Michael O'Neill. The former Northern Ireland boss is embarking on his first full season in charge of Stoke, having steered them clear of danger to a 15th-place finish last term.
Ex-midfielder O’Neill turned out for 13 different clubs during his playing days, before beginning his managerial career with Brechin City and Shamrock Rovers.
Then followed his nine-year stint with Northern Ireland, who he led to the European Championship finals for the first time in 2016.
Who's the captain?
John Obi Mikel. The experienced Nigeria international joined the Potters last summer after spells with Middlesbrough and Trabzonspor, and has taken the armband following Ryan Shawcross’ departure to Inter Miami.
The 33-year-old will be best remembered for his trophy-laden 11-year stint at Chelsea, which yielded two Premier League titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup, plus Champions League and Europa League triumphs.
He won the African Cup of Nations with his country in 2013, and featured at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups.
Who are the key men?
The Potters added to their attacking quality in the summer by signing the experienced Steven Fletcher, who joins forces with the likes of Tyrese Campbell, James McClean and Sam Vokes.
Fletcher has eight goals to his name, with Nick Powell topping the goalscoring charts with 10. Campbell has seven goals but has had a long spell on the sidelines through injury.
They also strengthened in the middle of the park with the arrival of two-time Premier League title winner Mikel, while Wales international James Chester came in to bolster the defence.