A year to remember
1st January 2014
As we kick off another calendar year this afternoon against Manchester City, it is the time where we reflect and look back at the past 12 months. It was another remarkable year for Swansea City and what better way to celebrate than to re-live the year that was 2013. We pick up the story midway through the 2012-13 campaign, with the Swans having booked a semi-final clash against Chelsea in the Capital One Cup as well as sitting mid-table in the Barclays Premier League...
The year began with a home game against struggling Aston Villa, and despite one of the most one-sided games seen at the Liberty, the Swans had to settle for a point. Wayne Routledge put the hosts in front early on but goals from Andreas Weimann and Christian Benteke turned the game on its head, before Danny Graham rescued a draw with a stoppage-time equaliser.
Attention then turned to the FA Cup as Swansea were handed a home tie against Arsenal in the third round, and again Graham was the saviour as he scored another late equaliser to claim a replay following a 2-2 draw.
Cup fever was spreading through the city - this time the Capital One Cup - as Michael Laudrup's side travelled to Stamford Bridge for the first leg of their semi-final with Chelsea.
In a remarkable game in west London, Michu gave the visitors the lead before Graham netted his fourth goal in as many games late on to give Swansea a two-goal advantage for the return leg.
A goalless draw followed against Everton in the league, before Swansea bowed out of the FA Cup following a 1-0 replay defeat at Arsenal. Laudrup's men continued their fine home form with a 3-1 win over Stoke before Chelsea arrived in SA1.
On a bitterly cold night in south west Wales, the Swans outclassed their rivals to secure a 0-0 draw and seal a place at Wembley for their maiden major cup final appearance.
The month ended with another goalless draw - this time at Sunderland - as the Swans looked ahead to a record-breaking February.
On the transfer front, Danny Graham departed for Sunderland in a £5m deal after 18 months at the Liberty Stadium, while Roland Lamah arrived on loan from Spanish side Osasuna.
The month started with a 1-0 defeat at West Ham before Queens Park Rangers were put to the sword in a 4-1 win at the Liberty.
The Swans then suffered a 5-0 defeat at Anfield against Liverpool - exactly a week before arguably the club's biggest game.
Wembley was the setting, Bradford were the opposition.
The League Two side had produced heroics in reaching the final, beating Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa along the way under the guidance of Phil Parkinson.
But it was the Swans who were celebrating in the capital as they dominated from start to finish on a record-breaking afternoon.
Nathan Dyer and Michu handed Swansea a 2-0 half-time lead, before Dyer grabbed his second shortly after the break and Jonathan de Guzman scored a fourth from the penalty spot.
The Dutch international scored his second - and Swansea's fifth - in the final minute to hand the Welsh side a 5-0 win and the highest winning margin in League Cup history.
The triumph gave the club its first major trophy in the Centenary year and meant Laudrup's side would feature in the Europa League during the 2013-14 season.
With the city celebrating, it was a return to league action as Newcastle arrived at the Liberty Stadium. Luke Moore's late strike secured a 1-0 win and moved the Swans on to the 40-point mark in the Premier League.
However, three successive defeats followed for Laudrup's side as they lost to West Brom, Arsenal and Tottenham.
This proved to be the start of a difficult run for the Swans, who won just once in ten games before the end of the season.
April began with a 2-2 draw at Norwich, Luke Moore getting another goal to seal another away point.
In-form Southampton were the next visitors to the Liberty in a dour 0-0 draw before the month ended with a 2-0 defeat against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The first week of May marked the 10-year anniversary of that historic game against Hull that saw Swansea City preserve their Football League status.
On the pitch, Roberto Mancini's Manchester City were held to a goalless draw in SA1 before a much-needed three points arrived against struggling Wigan.
Roberto Martinez's side led twice at the DW Stadium but goals from Angel Rangel, Itay Schechter - his first for the club - and Dwight Tiendalli gave the Swans a 3-2 win and all but condemn Wigan to relegation.
Just 24 hours after that game, the football world reacted to the news that Sir Alex Ferguson would be retiring at the end of the season after 26 years in charge at Manchester United.
It was perhaps fitting then, that his last home game in charge would be against the Swans, and everything seemed to be going to plan as Javier Hernandez gave United a first half lead.
However, Michu levelled shortly after the break to score his 22nd goal of the season, before Rio Ferdinand scored a late, late winner to seal a perfect end for Sir Alex at Old Trafford.
The season ended with a 3-0 home defeat to Fulham as the curtain came down on a campaign to remember for everyone associated with Swansea City.
The close season saw a number of changes of personnel at the Liberty Stadium as the Swans looked ahead to a third campaign in the Barclays Premier League.
Jonathan de Guzman re-joined the club on loan from Villarreal, while the club's Spanish contingent rose to seven with the arrivals of Jose Canas, Jordi Amat and Alejandro Pozuelo.
Prior to the club's pre-season trip to Holland, Jonjo Shelvey signed in a £5m deal, while the Swans smashed their transfer record with the £12m arrival of Vitesse Arnhem striker Wilfried Bony.
The Swans won all four of their games in the Netherlands, scoring 18 goals in the process, before returning to the UK and securing friendly wins over Yeovil, Exeter and Reading.
Mark Gower and Kemy Agustien ended their time at Swansea City, signing for Charlton and Brighton respectively, while Luke Moore moved to Turkish side Elazigspor on a free transfer.
Dwight Tiendalli returned for a second spell at the club and Alvaro Vazquez arrived on transfer deadline day in a loan deal.
The Swans' first port of call for the new campaign was their foray into the UEFA Europa League, entering the competition at the qualifying stage.
After being drawn with Malmo, the Swans cruised to a 4-0 first leg win at the Liberty before drawing 0-0 in Sweden to set up a play-off tie with FC Petrolul Ploiesti.
Michael Laudrup's side recorded a 6-2 win on aggregate to reach the group stages, where they were paired with Valencia, St Gallen and Kuban Krasnodar.
Meanwhile, they kicked off the Premier League season with a 4-1 home defeat to Manchester United, before ending the month with a narrow 1-0 loss against Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
A positive month began well for the Swans with an away day success at West Bromwich Albion.
Goals from Ben Davies and Pablo Hernandez secured all three points at the Hawthorns ahead of an entertaining clash with Liverpool at the Liberty Stadium.
Former Reds midfielder Jonjo Shelvey opened the scoring after just two minutes, but goals from Daniel Sturridge and Victor Moses gave Liverpool the lead before Shelvey set up Michu to earn Swansea a share of the points against former boss Brendan Rodgers.
But it was soon back to European affairs, and the small matter of a trip to Valencia. The stage was set, and the Swans didn't disappoint. The home side were reduced to ten men early on and goals from Wilfried Bony, Michu and Jonathan de Guzman saw Laudrup's men record a stunning 3-0 win at the Mestalla in one of the greatest nights in the club's history.
Back in the Premier League, another away win was secured at Crystal Palace thanks to strikes from Michu and Nathan Dyer, before their Capital One Cup defence came to an abrupt end at the third round stage with a 3-1 defeat at Birmingham City.
St Gallen were the Swans' first opponents in October as Wayne Routledge grabbed the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win, before the away form came unstuck at high-flying Southampton.
A much-needed first home win of the season came on October 19 as Sunderland were thrashed 4-0 at the Liberty Stadium, but Laudrup's men couldn't carry on from there in Europe as they were denied another home win - this time against Kuban Krasnodar - following a stoppage-time penalty from the Russian side.
October ended with a 0-0 draw against West Ham before attention swiftly turned to the first south Wales derby of the season.
Media interest was unprecedented in the run up to the first Welsh derby in the Premier League as the Swans travelled to the Cardiff City Stadium.
However, it was a Swans old boy that proved to be the difference on the day as former loanee Steven Caulker scored the winning goal to hand the Bluebirds all three points.
A gruelling month continued with a long trip to Russia in the Europa League as the Swans searched for the win that could seal their place in the knockout phase.
Wilfried Bony put them ahead early on in Krasnodar, but another stoppage-time goal from the Russians meant the Swans had to settle for a point and put qualification on hold.
Michael Laudrup's side then faced Stoke at the Liberty and despite going 2-0 down, came back to lead 3-2 going into the final minute but yet another late goal saw the visitors claim a controversial point.
However, the side's positive away form continued with a 2-1 success at Fulham - their third straight win at Craven Cottage - before Valencia avenged their thumping at the Mestalla with a 1-0 win at the Liberty in the Europa League.
The Swans kicked off December with a 3-0 defeat at Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, but got back to winning ways just three days later with a win over Newcastle by the same scoreline.
The curse of the former player again came back to haunt the Swans as Danny Graham returned to the Liberty to hand Hull a 1-0 lead before Chico Flores scored his first goal of the season to secure the hosts a point.
Meanwhile, the Swans travelled to Switzerland to face St Gallen in the Europa League knowing that a point would secure their passage to the knockout stage.
However, despite a 1-0 defeat at the AFG Arena, Valencia's draw with Kuban in Spain meant that the Swans qualified for the last 32 of the competition, where they were drawn against Italian giants Napoli.
Back to domestic matters, and a 1-1 draw at Norwich was overshadowed by an injury to Nathan Dyer as the Swans moved on to the 20-point mark in the Premier League.
The final home game of 2013 saw a familiar face in the opposition dugout as Roberto Martinez brought his in-form Everton to the Liberty.
And the Spaniard was smiling come the final whistle as goals from Seamus Coleman and Ross Barkley handed the Toffees a 2-1 win as they moved into the top four.
The Swans ended the month, and the year, with a Boxing Day defeat against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge before a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa.
Here's to another memorable 12 months...