Preview | Swansea City v Barnsley
Swansea City will look to make the most of home comforts as they welcome Barnsley to SA1 for the first part of a festive double-header at the Liberty this afternoon (3pm).
Steve Cooper’s side saw a three-match unbeaten run come to an end at Brentford on Boxing Day, but returning to the Liberty to take on the Tykes and Charlton provides an opportunity to bounce back quickly.
The Swans ended their wait for a home win against Middlesbrough in their previous Liberty assignment, and head coach Cooper will want his side to start stringing together results in their own backyard given how tight the play-off battle is proving to be.
They face a Barnsley side who are at the wrong end of the table, but Gerhard Struber’s side have been on a good recent run.
They have lost just one of their last six games, and underlined the progress they are making with a Boxing Day point against leaders West Brom.
The Tykes also won their most recent away game at Millwall which means, despite a poor record in SA1, they will travel in high spirits having hauled themselves to within a point of safety.
Swansea City are waiting on the fitness of Mike van der Hoorn after the defender was a late withdrawal from the Boxing Day defeat at Brentford.
The Dutchman suffered a knee injury in the warm-up, with Ben Wilmot and Ben Cabango starting a league game together for the first time in his absence.
Sam Surridge and Cabango had overcome knocks to feature at Griffin Park, while Joe Rodon and Jordon Garrick remain sidelined.
Steve Cooper: “We are heading home on the back of a disappointing performance and result against Brentford, and we want to focus on ourselves and doing better in terms of our use of possession and our defending.
“There’s nothing new for us. We have two home games, we have not hidden away from the fact we need to win more games at home and there is no better opportunity to do that with how the fixtures have fallen and taking these games on.”
Gerhard Struber (via the Barnsley Chronicle): “The opponent is a little bit similar to West Brom in their style. They have good quality in attack. They play possession football and they are one of the best in the league in that style. We want to play that possession style more, especially when we play so many games so quickly, because it means we don’t have to run so many metres.
“In Swansea, we will need every player to be at their personal limit. This is now our chance to get a lot of points. A normal performance is not enough for points, we always need more.”
Remember the last time?
The last time these sides met in SA1 Swansea City claimed a straightforward victory at the start of a League Cup campaign that would end with Michael Laudrup’s side securing the first major honour in the club’s history.
The Swans had made a storming start to the 2012-13 season under Laudrup, winning 5-0 away at QPR and easing past West Ham with a 3-0 win in their two games under the Dane.
They took the lead on 24 minutes as top-scorer from the previous season, Danny Graham, knocked the ball into an open net after good work from right-back Angel Rangel, before striker Luke Moore smashed home Swansea’s second after the break.
Barnsley right-back Bobby Hassell gave the Tykes hope when he reduced the deficit on 69 minutes, but Jacob Mellis and Tomasz Cywka were both denied by Swans goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel as the Tykes sought a leveller.
And the tie was put beyond doubt just before full-time when Moore hammered in his second from a tight angle, firing past Ben Alnwick and into the net.
10 – Swansea City are unbeaten in their last 10 league fixtures against Barnsley, claiming five wins and five draws.
45 – Barnsley last beat the Swans in the league in SA1 in 1974, some 45 years ago. They have lost seven and drawn one of their eight visits since.