Preview | Swansea City v West Brom
Swansea City kick off the final 10-game run-in of their Championship campaign with a Liberty Stadium clash against leaders West Brom this afternoon (3pm).
With the finishing line now in sight at the end of a gruelling campaign, Steve Cooper’s Swans remaining firmly in the hunt for a play-off place.
Despite the frustration of late goals conceded at Fulham and Blackburn, they remain just four points adrift of the top six.
There would be no better time to put together a run of consistent form, but the sequence of games starts with a tough test against an Albion side with the chance of claiming the title and automatic promotion within their grasp.
Slaven Bilic’s side emerged winners in the reverse fixture back in December but, with time ticking down, the pressure and the stakes are higher and make for a different feel around the fixture.
A win for either side would feel like a sizeable stride towards the respective targets they would like to achieve come May.
Swansea are waiting on the fitness of Andre Ayew and Bersant Celina for the clash with the Baggies.
Top scorer Ayew is nursing a foot injury, while Celina is battling to overcome a pelvis problem.
Mike van der Hoorn and George Byers are set to miss the rest of the season, while Wayne Routledge (knee) is also sidelined.
Steve Cooper: “We have to look forward now and we will always aim to do better.
“The mood in the camp has been excellent, training has been really good this week.
“There are 10 games to go, we are four points off the play-offs, and there is everything to be excited and optimistic about.
“We certainly are here at the training ground, myself and the players, and if anybody is not thinking that then we will just block it out.”
Semi Ajayi (speaking to wba.co.uk): “We’re not thinking about how many games are left.
“The focus now is on Swansea and Swansea alone.
“We will be doing all we can to get maximum points against them and then the focus will switch to the next game, as it should do.
“We know it’ll be a tough game but we’ve got to try and do everything we can to get three points on Saturday.”
Remember the last time?
The Swans suffered a second consecutive home defeat as West Brom came from behind to win on their last visit to the Liberty in October 2018.
Graham Potter's side, beaten 4-1 by Norwich four days earlier, had led in the 10th minute thanks to Oli McBurnie's eighth goal of the campaign.
But two goals - both from corners - sank the Swans.
Just three minutes after taking the lead, the hosts were pegged back as Matt Phillips' deep corner was met by Craig Dawson, and his header looped over Erwin Mulder and into the net.
Then, a minute before the break, the Baggies were in front as Ahmed Hegazi headed in another deep corner at the back post.
1 – West Brom are looking to secure consecutive away league wins over the Swans for the first time, having won last season’s meeting in SA1.
5 – Conor Gallagher has five assists from nine Swansea City appearances, only Andre Ayew (five) had managed as many all season.