It’s been a summer of ups and downs for Swansea City’s fans, with several key players leaving, and new ones being brought in. Also the small matter of the American takeover occurred too.
The latest news out of the Liberty Stadium is that Wales’ only Premier League club broke their transfer record to sign Atletico Madrid striker Borja Baston, costing them £15.5m.
They have two relatively easy opening fixtures, a trip to Burnley before hosting a depleted Hull City. The next six games are against Leicester City, Chelsea, Southampton, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal. It’s safe to say the opening two games are must-win.
A defence without it’s leader
Lukasz Fabianski - It’s looking likely that Lukasz Fabianski is going to be the only player out of Swansea’s Euros contingent to start this game, after being involved in the club’s last pre-season friendly against Stade Rennais. Despite an overload of goalkeepers at the club, Fabianski should remain the number one option throughout the season, and rightly so.
Kyle Naughton - He lost his starting spot in the side when Francesco Guidolin took charge of Swansea, but he looks to be the preferred option at right-back, even after Angel Rangel did just sign a contract extension. It’s a weak spot in the side, and one that should have been improved in the transfer market.
Federico Fernandez - He lost his defensive partner in Ashley Williams, to Everton, but there’s every expectation that Federico Fernandez will have another stellar season at the club. He may have to step up in more of a leadership capacity, as that defence will need someone to organise them. He does have a knock going into the game, so he is a slight risk but he is expected to play.
Jordi Amat - He really does deserve a shot at proving he can start at the club, and replace Williams. Jordi Amat has the quality to be a starter in the Premier League, but unfortunately he has had both Fernandez and Williams ahead of him. He waited patiently, and now it’s his time to prove that Swansea don’t need to sign an established replacement for their departing captain, as there’s one capable of the task already at the club.
Stephen Kingsley - Neil Taylor only just started training with the squad, and it was revealed that both he and Ki Sung-Yeung won’t make the trip to Burnley. This means Kingsley has a shot at making a mark on the team, and show the manager he should be the starting left-back this season over Taylor.
Both he and the Welsh international are polar opposites, Taylor excels in the defensive third, but isn’t a threat when Swansea have the ball. Kingsley however is an offensive threat but as he is still just 22, hasn’t quite mastered the art of defending just yet. It’s an interesting dynamic and problem for Guidolin to have.
Jack Cork - With Gylfi Sigurdsson expected to start the game on the bench, it looks likely that Guidolin will use the same midfield three that started in their last friendly. Jack Cork is one of the first names on the teamsheet these days, and rightly so after a magnificent campaign last year.
Leon Britton - The new captain, and nobody deserves it more than Mr. Swansea himself. Leon Britton’s best days may be behind him, at 33, but he is still an important presence in the Swansea midfield, as he has been for over 10 years.
Leroy Fer - The more attacking player in this midfield trident, Leroy Fer will look to be the link between midfield and attack, and will be the player looking to place what Sigurdsson brings to this team. After impressing on loan last season and earning a permanent deal, Fer will look to kick on and show the rest of the league that his negative perception isn’t warranted.
Back to basics going forward
Nathan Dyer - Premier League champion Nathan Dyer should start for Swansea tomorrow. Who would have thought you could say that before last season? He will battle with Modou Barrow for that spot on the right flank, but Dyer should start tomorrow.
Fernando Llorente - Baston isn’t ready to make the squad, so Swansea will hand a debut to fellow Spaniard Fernando Llorente. The shape should be a standard 4-3-3, with two pacey wingers whipping crosses into their 6’5” striker. Llorente has to make a statement in this game, because with Baston’s pricetag comes a starting spot. That is unless Llorente can show Guidolin that he can’t be dropped.
Wayne Routledge - Britton in midfield, with Dyer and Wayne Routledge on the wings. Some things never change. Jefferson Montero is probably the better winger, but Routledge has been very impressive in pre-season and is a better crosser of the ball, which will complement Llorente’s strengths.