Preview | Swansea City v Watford
Swansea City will look to kick-off 2021 on a winning note when they host Watford at the Liberty Stadium this afternoon.
The Swans take on the Hornets following a fine 2020, in which they were one of the Championship’s top performing sides and reached the play-offs.
They will hope the new year sees them go a step further, and it begins as the last one ended, with a home meeting with another of the division’s promotion hopefuls.
The Hornets recently changed managers as Xisco Munoz replaced Vladimir Ivic, but they have been in the Championship’s upper reaches throughout the season.
And, having been relegated from the Premier League at the end of last season, they have retained a squad that has no shortage of depth or quality.
It may be game one of 2021, but there is no doubt this is an eagerly-anticipated encounter.
Swansea will wait on the fitness of Ryan Bennett after he appeared to suffer a hamstring injury in the draw with Reading.
Kyle Naughton remains a doubt with his side-strain, while Liam Cullen continues to self-isolate following a positive Covid-19 test.
Morgan Gibbs-White is closing in on a return from a fractured foot.
Steve Cooper: “We know there is a long way to go and there are a lot of things to improve on to get to where we want to end up.
“We are building, we are generally pleased with how we are progressing.
“We will continue with our work, committing to how we want to play and playing young players.
“We will be as competitive as we can and do it our way.”
Xisco Munoz: “We have taken the first step, now we have to look to grow.
“We can be better and we will need to work very hard from this point on.
“We have a very good group inside the dressing room and this is the way we’ll succeed.”
Remember the last time?
Richarlison's 90th-minute strike condemned the Swans to a third consecutive home defeat at the hands of Watford on the Hornets last visit to SA1 in 2017.
The Swans had been looking on course for a first point of the season at the Liberty, only for the Brazilian to take advantage of a defensive mishap and fire home the winner via the crossbar.
Watford, who had been on top for the first half, deservedly led at the break via Andre Gray, who slammed home after his cross dropped back to him via Sam Clucas' touch.
The Swans levelled when Wilfried Bony's shot was parried by Heurelho Gomes and Tammy Abraham tapped home from close range.
Watford, though, would find their winner in stoppage time as Roque Mesa's pass headed to Richarlison, who got the better of Alfie Mawson in a 50-50, and struck home from 20 yards with his shot rebounding in off the crossbar.
2 – Since returning to the Championship the Swans have won both their fixtures at the start of a new calendar year, beating Reading 4-1 in 2019 and Charlton 1-0 in 2020.
50 – This will be the 50th meeting of the two clubs. The Swans currently lead the head-to-head record with 22 wins and 10 draws from the 49 games to date.
Today we welcome our virtual mascots, Jack Brown and Rhys Brown.
Jack is aged eight, from Swansea, and his favourite player is Freddie Woodman. Jack plays football for Briton Ferry under-nines and was inspired to become a goalkeeper after seeing Freddie’s penalty save at Derby last season.
Rhys is aged 10, from Hong Kong, and has a sibling named Olwen. Rhys plays football for BTS (HK) and his favourite player is Andre Ayew.