Preview: Swans v Sheffield United
Swansea City will seek to maintain their unbeaten start to 2019 against automatic promotion contenders Sheffield United at the Liberty Stadium this evening (5.30pm).
The Swans may have emerged victorious at Bramall Lane on the opening day of the season, with Oli McBurnie and Yan Dhanda getting the goals, but it is the Blades who occupy the better position in the Championship table.
Chris Wilder’s team lie 11 places and 13 places above the Swans and are on an excellent run of form.
For the hosts it is their first home game of the new year, having racked up wins at Reading and Aston Villa, followed by last weekend’s draw at Preston.
They will be keen to get back to the Liberty, with a run of four of the next five games in all competitions coming on home soil and giving them an opportunity to make up the six-point deficit to the play-off places.
Swansea City have McBurnie back in the fold following recent illness. The striker missed the FA Cup win at Aston Villa and then had to sit out the draw at Preston after feeling unwell the night before the Deepdale contest.
Tom Carroll has returned to training this week following his hip problems, but this game comes too soon for him.
Martin Olsson is a long-term absentee after rupturing his Achilles against Brentford last month.
Graham Potter: "I think they have done great. Chris Wilder has done a tremendous job there since he took over at a time when the club was languishing alittle bit.
"He took over in League One, they have had promotion and they have just improved every year.
“So, they are a team with a strong identity, they are well organised and you can see why they are in the promotion places to go into the Premier League.
“It’s a good team and it’s going to be a tough match.”
Kyle Naughton: “We’ve just got to try and put things right by trying to get back into the Premier League – whether that’s through automatic promotion or via the play-offs – as that’s where the club should be.
“We’ve got a good bunch of young players that are pulling in the same direction. Their quality is obvious with the football that they’re playing and, for me, we can only go from the strength to strength.”
Chris Wilder: "We were disappointed to lose a tight game on the first day of the season. We made a couple of poor decisions after going ahead.
"The defeats we've had, other than Middlesbrough, have been tight. We talked to the players at Christmas about improving and trying to get better during the second-half of the season."
Remember the last time?
These sides last met at the Liberty on the final day of the 2010-11 season with the Swans already assured of a play-off spot and the Blades already relegated to League One.
Brendan Rodgers side ended up easing to a 4-0 win over the 10-man visitors to leapfrog Cardiff into third place in the final table.
Stephen Dobbie opened the scoring for the Swans with a fine free-kick, before United had Shane Lowry dismissed for handling a Scott Sinclair shot on the line.
Sinclair duly stroked home the resulting penalty and Dobbie fired home from the edge of the area to make it 3-0.
Leon Britton – who had returned to the Liberty from Bramall Lane in January – rounded off the scoring against his former club.
5 – Should Swansea avoid defeat this weekend then they will record their longest unbeaten run of the season to date. Potter’s side were unbeaten in their first four games of the campaign = including the win at Bramall Lane - and have matched it with wins over Villa and Reading, plus draws against Wigan and Preston.
18 – Potter and his players have spoken of their desire to improve their home record. Swansea have taken 18 points from a possible 39 at the Liberty. Only Reading, Ipswich and Bolton have picked up fewer at home.