Preview | Brentford v Swansea City | 2021 Championship play-off final
Swansea City will seek to achieve promotion to the top-flight for the third time in the club’s 109-year history when they take on Brentford at Wembley this afternoon (3pm).
The familiar foes, for whom this will be a 10th meeting since the start of December 2018, booked their places in the play-off final thanks to aggregate wins over Barnsley and Bournemouth respectively.
For the Swans it is the 53rd and final game of a gruelling and unrelenting season, with a tantalising prize of a return to the Premier League after a three-year absence at stake.
There are positive omens for Steve Cooper’s side. The Swans have not lost in three previous visits to Wembley since it reopened after renovation in 2007.
Additionally, the two previous promotions to the top-flight were also achieved in years ending in one; John Toshack’s side were the first to do so in 1981, while Brendan Rodgers was at the helm 10 years ago in 2011.
But all those facts and stats will be of no relevance come kick-off time this afternoon. It is a new chapter and a new slice of history to be made.
Everyone with any connection or affiliation to Swansea City will hope this can once again be our day.
Wayne Routledge sadly misses out on a place in the final after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the second leg of the semi-final against Barnsley.
Midfielder Ollie Cooper is also not in contention due to an ankle injury, while Brandon Cooper and Tivonge Rushesha remain on the sidelines.
Steve Cooper: “We are really excited. I’m excited because I see how confident the players are. It fills me with a lot of confidence and pride as well.
“We’ve been on a journey for a couple of years.
“People have come and gone, that’s what happens. But we’re really looking forward to getting down to London and playing on the big stage.
“There’s so much to play for and we know we’ve got to really believe in how we play and work.
“We know the rewards are massive, and that’s a massive motivation for us.”
Thomas Frank: “There is that good focus with the understanding we are facing a Swansea team that has done a fantastic season.
“We have played them twice, both 1-1 draws, with Steve Cooper who is one of the most talented managers in this country, and his experienced coaching staff, who have just performed and performed even better.
“It is going to be an unbelievably tight game decided on the finest margins. I am looking forward to it and we will give it a big go.”
Remember the last time?
Conor Hourihane’s first goal for the club ensured 10-man Swansea City extended their unbeaten run and climbed back into second place in the Championship table with a hard-earned point against Brentford in January 2021.
Steve Cooper’s side had looked set to suffer a rare defeat when Tariqe Fosu-Henry headed home with 16 minutes to play, shortly after Kyle Naughton had seen red after receiving two yellow cards from referee John Brooks.
But Hourihane, on his first league appearance for his new club, caught out the Brentford defence and keeper with a whipped free-kick that found the far corner of the net.
It was reward for a gritty performance from the hosts and stretched their unbeaten run to eight games, while they were 11 games without losing at the Liberty.
5 – This will be Swansea City’s fifth play-off final since the format was introduced ahead of the 1986-87 season. They have won two (1988, 2011) and lost two (1997, 2006) of the previous four.
10 – This will be the 10th meeting between the sides since Swansea were relegated to the Championship in 2018. The sides have been evenly-matched with the Swans winning four games and Brentford three, with two draws.