Preview | Swansea City v Hull City
Steve Cooper’s tenure as Swansea City head coach gets under way in earnest this afternoon as the 2019-20 campaign kicks off against Hull City (3pm).
The Swans have enjoyed six wins from six over the course of pre-season, including an impressive fightback against Champions League outfit Atalanta at the Liberty seven days ago.
But Cooper has made clear the start of league action with points at stake will prove a very different challenge against a Tigers side who ended Swansea’s lingering play-off hopes on their last visit to SA1 back in April.
The visitors also have a new manager in the form of ex-Doncaster boss Grant McCann and it promises to be an intriguing opening-weekend encounter.
Matt Grimes will skipper the Swans for the first time following his appointment as captain, while there could be four debuts for the hosts with Jake Bidwell, Ben Wilmot, Freddie Woodman and Kristoffer Peterson all potentially set to make their bows.
It may be less than 13 weeks since the conclusion of last season, but there is that familiar feeling of nervous excitement in the air at the dawn of a new campaign.
Swansea will be without experienced winger Wayne Routledge, who has failed to shake off a knock, but midfielders George Byers and Jay Fulton are fit following minor ailments of their own.
Recent signings Woodman and Peterson could make their debuts, while Cooper’s selection in attack will be of interest following Oli McBurnie’s departure to Sheffield United.
Borja Baston has featured from the bench in recent friendlies, while Courtney Baker-Richardson is fit after injury.
Steve Cooper: “We are at home and we will be committed and focused on our own game.
“It promises to be an exciting game, Hull want to play an expansive game too but we have to get our own game right and if we do that we can be competitive in every game we play.
“The players are very focused, very excited. Training has been excellent again.
“We will finish off our preparations and we just want to play in a way that connects us to the fans and gives them a team they can be proud of and get behind to help us get over the line.”
Grant McCann: “Everyone is looking good. It’s been a really good pre-season.
“There’s been bits where we’ve been really good and there’s been bits where we can improve.
“It’s going to be like that for the first few weeks but we’re quite confident in the changing room that we can give Swansea a good game.”
Remember the last time
Swansea City saw their Championship play-off hopes ended as they lost a two-goal lead to draw with Hull back in April.
Graham Potter’s men had looked on course for a seventh-straight home victory when OIi McBurnie’s brace had them in the ascendancy.
The Scotland striker turned home Wayne Routledge’s cross for the opener, and then added the second with an excellent header, with Daniel James the provider.
But Jarrod Bowen pulled one back for the Tigers before another close-range finish – this time from substitute Nouha Dicko – levelled matters.
6 – Swansea City have not beaten Hull in the last six meetings between the sides. The Swans last tasting victory in April 2015 with a 3-1 win which included a Bafetimbi Gomis brace.
11 – The Swans are protecting an 11-match unbeaten home league record at the Liberty. Aston Villa were the last side to leave SA1 with all three points all the way back on Boxing Day, 2018.