Swans v Wigan Athletic: The big talking points

28th December 2018
First team

Swansea City look to end the calendar year in positive fashion when they host Wigan Athletic at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday (3pm).

Graham Potter’s men have lost their last two games and will be keen to make sure they mark their final game of 2018 with three points.

Here, we look at the big talking points ahead of this weekend’s Championship contest.

Taking chances

A recurring theme of this Christmas period has been the frustration Potter and his players have felt and expressed at chances missed in those defeats against Hull and Aston Villa.

Both on Humberside and again in SA1, the Swans showcased impressive passages of play and had spells where it would be far from unfair to say they had control of those games.

Yet they emerged with nothing to show for their efforts, and Potter’s own half-term assessment made reference to a need for his side to start turning their good periods of play into tangible reward.

If they can manage that feat this afternoon it would provide some belated Christmas cheer for the Jack Army.

A year of change

As the curtain comes down on 2018, it seems like a good time to reflect on just how much has changed over the last 12 months at the Liberty Stadium.

Wind the clock back a year and Carlos Carvalhal had just taken charge of the Swans as they sought to avoid relegation from the top-flight.

Now the Swans are aiming to be in Championship play-off contention under Graham Potter, whilst playing a brand of attractive football, as they rebuild.

There has inevitably been a significant change in the playing staff along the way and perhaps the most telling statistic is that of the Swans side that started at Watford in the last game of 2017, there was just one survivor in the XI against Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

The sole individual was Kyle Naughton; Tom Carroll and Martin Olsson also started at Vicarage Road but are currently injured.

When it comes to the matchday squad, only six of those involved on Boxing Day were in the 18 this time last year.

Will Potter rotate?

Managers often have to rotate their squads out of necessity over the festive period, and Potter made six changes for the Boxing Day clash with Hull.

The schedule shows little sign of letting up, with Swansea in action again in just three days when they head to the Madejski Stadium to face Reading on New Year’s Day.

Potter has not been shy of making alterations to his line-up through the season, and Joe Rodon could be one man to come back in after being among the substitutes in midweek.

Wayne Routledge will also be hopeful of featuring should he prove his fitness after a calf strain as Potter faces a decision of how best to handle another short turnaround.

Grimes lighting up Christmas period

One man who would appear unlikely to be left out of the side at the moment in midfielder Matt Grimes.

Potter was fulsome in his praise of the former Exeter man, describing his display against Aston Villa as “outstanding”.

Swans fans have had to wait a while to see the former England Under-20’s captain get a run of first-team games under his belt, but Grimes has certainly shown his quality this season.

His busy displays in midfield have been an important part of Swansea’s efforts to get tempo into their passing game.

Against Villa he had an 82 per cent pass completion rate, won the ball on three separate occasions and was dispossessed just once against an opposition midfield rated as one of the best in the division.

Swansea and Potter will be hoping for a repeat of that sort of showing against the Latics.