'Our toughest test yet'

20th August 2018
First team

Graham Potter reckons Swansea City will face their toughest Championship test yet when they host Leeds United on Tuesday (7.45pm).

The Swans put their early-season unbeaten record on the line against a Leeds side who have won all four of their games in 2018-19.

The Elland Road heavyweights are playing some eye-catching football under new boss Marcelo Bielsa.

And Potter, who is a big admirer of the former Argentina and Chile coach, believes the Swans will have to dig deep to become the first team to take points off Leeds this season.

“I have been very impressed by them,” said the Swans manager.

“I think they are the strongest team we have played so far. That’s no disrespect to the others, but Leeds’ results speak for themselves.

“They had a convincing win over Stoke and a really good win at Derby.

“They have some really good players and will be well organised. Marcelo Bielsa’s teams have always been very attacking, aggressive, well-organised and disciplined as well creative.

“It is not easy to do all that quickly, but you can see the work he is doing with Leeds and it looks like the players are buying into it.

“That means they are going to be a strong test for us.”

The Swans have no fresh injury concerns following Friday night’s goalless draw at Birmingham City, which left them with seven points from their first three games under Potter.

Kristoffer Nordfeldt is making rapid progress from the groin injury he sustained against Preston nine days ago but is unlikely to feature on Tuesday.

Long-term absentee Wilfried Bony is also missing, but other than that, Potter looks like having a full squad at his disposal.

That is a welcome boost as he bids to get the better of the highly regarded Bielsa.

“He has had an amazing career,” Potter said.

“He has been hugely influential for lots of top, top coaches and he is one of those people you have admired from a distance for a long time.

“I have a lot of respect for anyone who has been in the game as long he has been.

“His methods are pioneering and creative – I remember watching his Athletic Bilbao team produce a fantastic performance against Manchester United.

“There are not too many coaches in world football who are as influential as he has been and I think we are fortunate to have him working in British football.”

While Potter was disappointed with his team’s play in possession at Birmingham, he is taking considerable encouragement from the way they battled to a point.

A youthful Swans side showed plenty of courage and character to hold on for a goalless draw, just as they had done to preserve their 1-0 lead in the second half against Preston.

“Sometimes you have to do the messy stuff and I thought we did that very well at Birmingham,” Potter said.

“The spirt, the application and the togetherness of the players was very good and that’s what gave us the chance to earn a point.

“If you just fold in that situation or you can only get points when you are playing well, you are in trouble.

“We have to acknowledge that we can be better, but at the same time we know there will be periods where we have to defend when you consider where we are as a group.”