Matchday Live: Swansea vs Town – The Preview

Two weeks is a long time without a Town game when you’re in the Premier League isn’t it?

As the last of the World Cup qualifiers are played and the final dramatic moments played out (unless you’re an England fan), Town fans heads are slowly turning back to the bread and butter with the gold encrusted filling that is the Premier League.

After the thrashing that we received off Spurs thanks to some extremely questionable defending and a goal from the gods from England’s No 9, Harry Kane, Town fans will have been hoping to get some respite from such games where faint optimism and dreams of a draw are your highest expectations.

Such is the inequality both in financial and football terms that epitomises this league; we go into this week’s game against Swansea as a must-win with looming fixtures of Manchester United at home and a trip to Anfield to contend with afterwards.

Similarly, I am sure most Swansea fans will be looking at this game as a must-win as well with our status as a newly promoted team signalling to all teams of the desire to get three points against a team like us when they have bigger fish to fry throughout the season.

However, it is games like this where at the very least we must get a draw and be as aggressive as possible in the search for a win.

In the past few games, the massive elephant in the room of our lack of goals has reared its ugly head once more and David Wagner will be hoping some of his key players who have been injured will be able to return to the grass to help the team.

Most notably midfielder Danny Williams whose dynamism we have sorely missed and top goal-scorer Steve Mounié although at least in this area the cover has stepped in and deputised admirably in Laurent Depoitre.

Kasey Palmer continues his recovery work but this could be a game where Abdelhamid Sabiri is given another opportunity to demonstrate his excellent link-up play and guile which earned him plaudits in the Leicester game.

In that game, we looked far more balanced and dangerous going forward with Tom Ince back to his more natural wing position and his delivery will be crucial if we are to get something from Saturday’s game.

Last week, the dearth of quality delivery from our full-backs and wingers became blindingly obvious and Wagner will be hoping whomever he plays as his wingers and full-backs on Saturday will be able to deliver the service to Mounie or Depoitre that is so vital to the effectiveness of our game.

Our entire playing style is built upon the solid foundations of good deliveries into the box with strikers getting on the end of them and to see us get into so many good positions against Spurs only for the cross to either go out of play, not to one of our players or be failed to delivered completely is simply not good enough at this level.

It is especially noticeable when you contrast our final-ball delivery to Spurs who had Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier delivering penetrating balls of the highest quality time and time again that were a constant problem to our defenders.

After the loss of their talismanic striker Fernando Llorente to Spurs on transfer deadline day, Swansea went back to basics and re-signed their former flame and viral internet meme Wilfrid “score some goals” Bony who they will be hoping can rediscover the potent form that he showed for them in his first spell at the club before he was subsequently poached.

For players like Bony and Sigurdsson, it is imperative for the team to be built around them and to their needs if they are to flourish and with the strong team ethic that Head Coach Paul Clement has instilled in them, Swans fans should be confident that given time, results will begin to show a greater level of consistency.

Key Battles

Wilfrid Bony vs Christopher Schindler

As stated above, Bony will be hoping to capture the form he showed during his first stint at Swansea.

Bony’s physical presence and aerial ability will once again test Christopher Schindler’s capabilities and try and make life as uncomfortable as possible for him.

With every game, Schindler is appearing more comfortable with the pace and ferocity of the Premier League and more experience against this higher calibre of striker will only do him and the rest of the team good.

Alfie Mawson vs Laurent Depoitre

Seeing as Mounié will only be just returning from injury, I don’t expect he will be rushed back into the starting line-up especially as Depoitre has deputised for him so ably.

He was incredibly unlucky to not grab a consolation goal for Town last week with his 25 yard effort ricocheting off the bar but ‘Lolo’ will be hoping for more joy against the Swans defence, in particular starlet Alfie Mawson.

The former Barnsley man who signed for the club in August 2016 got off to a rocky start but has grown in confidence and his performances have been much more consistent towards the end of last season and the start of this season under the guidance of Clement.

The England U-21 defender will have the ominous task of stopping Depoitre but given the professionalism and characters of both players, you can predict this will be a titanic battle but one fought with respect and fairness.

Tammy Abraham vs Zanka

One of those players on the list of ‘always scores against Town’, Tammy Abraham will probably be looking forward to playing us as it’s usually a fixture where he scores at least once.

In the 2016/2017 promotion season, Abraham took full advantage of the Town squad’s brittleness against lower-ranked opposition in the Championship and put an end to our faint hopes of automatic promotion.

A finisher by trade and a good one at that, Abraham will be hoping to get the better of Zanka on Saturday.

Another product of the Chelsea never-ending but never playing production line, if we are to get a result from this game, Zanka will have to keep Abraham from having the slightest sniff at goal.

Jordan Ayew vs Scott Malone

Scott Malone has stated his case multiple times for a start after a number of below par performances from the usually brilliantly consistent Chris Lowe.

Finally, Scott Malone, the former Cardiff City full-back could ironically get the Premier League start that he deserves in Wales.

After impressing in cameo roles against West Ham United and Spurs, Scott Malone’s selection would be far from a controversial selection.

One potential issue though is that Scott Malone has yet to be tested defensively, as admirable and enjoyable as his lung-busting runs into the final third have been, I’m unsure about his defensive capabilities. Although, he does offer a more athletic and physical option to Chris Lowe.

Although Jordan Ayew is not a Riyad Mahrez or a Dele Alli to contest with, he is a nuisance and he has shown that he can be effective so Scott Malone will have the task of dealing with his off the ball runs and constant pressure.

Leon Britton vs Philip Billing

This could be an interesting battle for a number of reasons.

In terms of a physical battle, Philip Billing towers over Leon Britton and he has far superior athletic ability to potentially dominate the centre of midfield.

However, in football, there are many insatiable attributes and one of the main ones is knowhow. Leon Britton’s experience and knowhow of handling games like this could well be crucial when it comes to Swansea getting something out of this game.

One of the most under-rated players the Premier League has witnessed in my opinion, Leon Britton has been the heart and soul of this Swansea team.

His playing style epitomises the Swans’ identity and his character has seen him stay with the club right through their phoenix rise from League Two to the Premier League.

 

On the other hand, Philip Billing is still very much at the start of his career and it is games like this where he will want to stamp his mark on the game and show why he should be starting for Town, week in week out.

Team line-up

Here is our predicted line-up:

 

Stats to look out for:

  • Swansea won 1-0 away in the most recent encounter, a League One fixture in 2008.
  • However, Huddersfield have won their last two league games in Swansea.
  • Swansea have recorded one victory in their last seven Premier League games (D2, L4).
  • They have lost their opening three home games for the first time in the club’s history.
  • However, Paul Clement’s side are one point better off than at this stage last season under Francesco Guidolin.
  • Town could go four consecutive games without scoring for the first time since August 2004.
  • This is Huddersfield’s first top-flight match in Wales since a 2-1 victory at Cardiff City in September 1955.
  • Goalkeeper Jonas Lossl has kept four Premier League clean sheets this season. Only David de Gea has more, with six.

Swansea and Town have struggled for goals so far this season so I wouldn’t get your hopes up for a goal-fest on Saturday but I can guarantee it will be a tense and tight affair with both teams implementing a commendable and entertaining style of football that deserves recognition. However, I don’t think I will get to watch it first on Match of the Day.

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