Preview | Swansea City v Birmingham City
Swansea City will look to build on their Championship-opening victory over Preston when they host Birmingham City at the Liberty Stadium this afternoon (3pm).
Three points and a clean sheet made for an ideal start to the league campaign at Deepdale last weekend, with Morgan Gibbs-White marking his league debut for the club with the winner.
There is still a long way to go – the small matter of 45 more games lie in wait – but, as Swansea know from last season, a good start can go a long way to teeing up the rest of the season.
The Swans have a good recent record against Birmingham, they are unbeaten in the last six meetings, winning four of them.
But the Blues – now under the guidance of ex-Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest boss Aitor Karanka – served notice of their capabilities by beating last season’s play-off finalists Brentford on the opening weekend.
There would have been no danger of Steve Cooper and his players underestimating their opponents, but that result will only serve to focus minds ahead of the first home game of the season.
Sadly Korey Smith, Jamal Lowe and Gibbs-White will not make their home debuts in front of a packed Liberty, and we all hope players, staff and supporters can be together again soon.
But it will not detract from the desire to give supporters plenty to cheer as they watch this home opener from a distance.
George Byers remains the only injury absentee for the Swans as the midfielder continues to recover from a groin problem.
Jordon Garrick and Kristoffer Peterson got valuable minutes under their belt for the under-23s in their victory over Cardiff on Monday.
Birmingham could bring Scott Hogan into their side, having sealed the signing of the striker from Aston Villa on Thursday.
Steve Cooper: “It’s always great to start with a win, it helps confidence and it can build momentum.
“We know Birmingham are an experienced team, they have a new manager with experience of the league and he has brought in a few players he knows and has worked with before.
“It’s only the second game of the season, but we know it will be a tough challenge. Having said that, it’s our first home game and we want to be on front foot and confident in our game.
“It comes down to us, that’s where our focus will always be. But we respect all our opponents and we know it will be a tough game against Birmingham. It’s one we will need to be ready for.”
Aitor Karanka: "Swansea are another team that played in the play-offs not long ago, they have a manager who is doing a really good job.
“It will be another challenge, another tough game. We need to forget the opponents and approach the match in the same way and do our best on the pitch.
“I like to take the initiative in the game, we will be organised without the ball and approach it as we would with any game in this league."
Remember the last time?
Swansea City continued their impressive start to the season as three second-half goals sealed a comprehensive win over Birmingham at the Liberty Stadium in August 2019.
Goals from Kyle Naughton, Bersant Celina and birthday boy Borja Baston made it four wins from five as the Swans turned up the heat on a hot and humid afternoon.
Substitute Naughton drove home from the edge of the area for his first Swans goal in just under a year, before Celina finished a slick counter and Borja netted from the spot, all in the space of 12 minutes.
The result also ensured head coach Steve Cooper had made the best start of any boss in the club’s 107-year history over the first five league games of his tenure.
The result saw the Swans rise back to second in the Championship table and extend their unbeaten home league run to 14 games, their best since the move to the Liberty in 2005.
6 – Swansea City are unbeaten in their last six meetings with Birmingham City.
23 – Swansea City have conceded 23 home league goals since the start of last season. Of sides in the Championship both this season and last, only Brentford have conceded fewer (21).
350 - Jake Bidwell racked up his 350th EFL appearance in last weekend's win over Preston.