Preview | Swansea City v Stoke City
It’s top versus bottom at the Liberty Stadium this afternoon as Swansea City look to head into the international break on the back of consecutive victories.
The midweek win at Charlton was the Swans first in the Championship since beating Leeds on August 31, and it was enough to send Steve Cooper’s men back to the top of the table.
The hosts will start as heavy favourites at the Liberty given the difficult start Stoke have had, with the Potters taking just two points from a possible 30.
But Swansea do not need to think too far back to be reminded of the need for full focus, no matter the form of an opponent.
Twelve months ago a winless Ipswich side visited the Liberty and emerged with a 3-2 victory, and Cooper and his players have got their feet firmly on the ground despite their high-flying start.
There are still 36 games ahead in what is once again proving to be a tightly-contested Championship season, and no prizes are handed out for where teams line in October.
And the thoughts of the head coach, his staff and his players will only be on turning in a performance on home turf after late disappointment against Reading in SA1.
Swansea City are boosted by the return of Jake Bidwell and George Byers for the visit of the Potters.
Bidwell has completed the three-match ban he received following his harsh red card at Bristol City and is back in contention for selection at left-back.
Midfielder Byers missed the midweek win at Charlton with a hamstring strain, but head coach Steve Cooper indicated he will be available for Saturday’s game.
Kristoffer Nordfeldt has been struggling with illness, while Aldo Kalulu remains sidelined by an ankle injury.
Steve Cooper: “We have to try and be as consistent as we can in terms of results and performance and try and drown out any background noise over the situation of an opponent.
“It’s 11 v11 game and we know what is required of us. We need to make sure we do the same again.
“It’s dangerous to look beyond the present. No-one is getting carried away, I can tell you that.
“All I want to do is focus on what is immediately next.”
Nathan Jones: “We haven’t built on a lead or performance at the minute.
“We will try to find ways to be creative at the weekend, but with great respect for Swansea.
“We will have to combat a team who are top of the league and find solutions where we have a bit of cutting edge.”
Remember the last time?
Swansea City recorded three wins in a row for the first time during the 2018-19 season as they eased past nine-man Stoke at the Liberty.
The Swans had surged into a 2-0 lead thanks to a superb strike from Daniel James and Mike van der Hoorn’s close-range finish.
They were pegged back by James McClean on the stroke of half-time, but the visitors saw Bruno Martins Indi and Tom Edwards sent off after the break – with all their cards coming for fouls on James – to stymie their hopes of a comeback.
And Oli McBurnie made sure of the three points by heading in his 19th goal of the season in the closing stages.
The last time Swansea had won three league games in a row was at the tail-end of the 2016-17 season, and this also ended Stoke’s run of six games without conceding a goal and a nine-match unbeaten streak.
6 – Stoke’s struggles on their travels are highlighted by the fact they have won just six of their last 53 games away from the bet365 Stadium in all competitions.
8 – Swansea City are chasing back-to-back league victories over Stoke for the first time in eight years, having last completed the feat in October 2011.