Sheffield United v Swans: The big talking points

3rd August 2018

Swansea City take on Sheffield United this weekend in their opening game of the new Championship season.

We check out the key talking points as the Swans head into the 2018-19 campaign.

 

A new era begins

A fresh chapter in the Swans history book begins in South Yorkshire on Saturday evening as Graham Potter takes charge of his first competitive game.

After a long and successful stint at Swedish club Ostersund, Potter is hoping to enjoy some more happy times in Wales.

These are still very early days in Potter’s Swans reign, of course, with transfer business still be done as the new season kicks off.

Not only that, but he has had only a relatively short pre-season during which to work with the squad he inherited.

It may take time, therefore, for Potter to build the Swans team he wants – but that does not mean he won’t be craving a strong start at Sheffield United.

 

Fresh faces on display?

There could be Swans debuts for four summer recruits this weekend.

Joel Asoro has been impressive since his move from Sunderland, while Yan Dhanda has produced some lovely touches during pre-season and will hope to be involved.

Barrie McKay and Bersant Celina only arrived in SA1 at the beginning of this week, but Potter could be tempted to use both straightaway if their fitness is good enough.

 

Sheffield steel

The Swans face a Sheffield United side who have been a powerful force in the last couple of seasons.

The Blades were promoted from League One in 2016-17, banking 100 points as they finished as champions of the third tier.

And last term they launched something of a surprise promotion push, contending for a play-off place throughout much of the campaign before finishing up 10th, six points outside the top six.

Boss Chris Wilder has already talked about improving on that laudable effort in 2018-19.

 

How will the Swans line up?

The truth is that it is not easy to tell.

Potter has experimented with a number of formations in pre-season, while a host of players have been given game-time.

The Swans’ new management have used the last five weeks to assess the players they have at their disposal.

Now they have to come up with a system – and an XI – which can deliver a result in Sheffield.

Kristoffer Nordfeldt will hope to see off Erwin Mulder in the battle to start the season in the Swans goal. In defence the likes of Connor Roberts, Federico Fernandez, Mike van der Hoorn and Blades old boy Kyle Naughton will hope for action, while Matt Grimes is another contender to play.

Tom Carroll, Jay Fulton, Dhanda and Celina are among the options in central areas a little further forward, while the likes of Asoro, McKay, Wayne Routledge, Nathan Dyer, Luciano Narsingh and Jefferson Montero could all be in Potter’s thinking along with Oli McBurnie.

It will be interesting to see who he picks.

 

Blade stunners?

The Swans have not had a great deal of joy at Sheffield United down the decades.

In fact, there has been just one Swans win in 18 previous league visits to Bramall Lane.

That was all the way back in 1939, when they triumphed 2-1 in the old Second Division.

The Swans’ most recent was in December 2010, when a Ched Evans goal was enough to give the home side – who included a certain Leon Britton – all three points.

The Swans were also beaten at United in the two previous seasons, but it was a different story when they went north in the 2006-07 FA Cup.

Kenny Jackett’s Swans were a League One team and United, under Neil Warnock, were a Premier League club.

Yet it was the Swans who sealed a memorable 3-0 victory thanks to two goals from Tom Butler and a Britton penalty.

A similar story this weekend would do very nicely.