I’m writing this on Tuesday night so at this stage I have no idea how Swansea did on Wednesday at home to Preston (they won 4-2 – Ed), or how Norwich did at QPR (hmm – Ed). But having made the trip to Middlesbrough last Friday I’m at the point of not caring anyway.
I don’t blame the players, I still think a lot of them are very capable footballers. I don’t blame David Wagner, he hasn’t had a chance to get his own men in. I’m just sick to death of this god-awful season of wasted opportunities and never-ending cock-ups.
Swansea are five points behind us at the time of writing (three now – Ed) and are probably as frustrated, if not more so, than us right now. They are, however, in much better current form.
While they started off 2023 with a record of one win, two draws, and nine defeats in the league, since mid-March they’ve racked up four wins and a draw from the last five games, pre-Preston.
While momentum might be against us, the positive for Wagner’s men might be that Swansea are the one team that we might enjoy playing against. They don’t employ a high press, they’re not particularly clinical, and they will overpass at times.
In terms of system, Russell Martin has switched to a back four, with 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-3-2 being his preferred recent formations.
In goal, Andy Fisher has kept four clean sheets in the past five games and appears to have established himself as the permanent number one at The Liberty.
At right-back, former MK Dons centre-back and Lord Melchett subordinate Harry Darling has started the last three games, taking over from Man City academy graduate Joel Latibeaudiere. At left-back, it’s been much more settled with Ryan Manning as the regular choice. Handy hint on Manning, he loves a yellow card. Their other option is former Norwich target Matthew Sorinola.
At centre-back, the regular starters are former Middlesbrough youngster Nathan Wood and Ben Cabango, one of the more established, quality Championship defenders. As backup, they have Kyle Naughton, who must be 50 by now.
In midfield, Matt Grimes plays as the 1 in a 4-1-3-2, quarterbacking in a not-too-dissimilar fashion to the way Kenny McLean was for us earlier this season. If Swansea play in a 4-2-3-1 or even a 4-3-3, former regulars like Joe Allen and Jay Fulton might make an appearance but they’ve been watching from the bench recently.
In the more attacking midfield areas, the last three games have seen starts for the same three players, Olivier Ntcham, Luke Cundle, and Liam Walsh.
Ntcham is a powerful Cameroonian international midfielder who joined the Swans from Celtic. Cundle, a 20-year-old wide man on loan from Wolves has established himself as a regular starter at the expense of more experienced teammates. Liam Walsh has had a stop-start time at Swansea following his move from Bristol City 2 years ago and appears to be finally getting a chance for regular starts.
Up front, Joel Piroe has led the way with 16 goals while not always getting the chances he would like and is definitely their biggest danger, especially if we give away a chance or two for fun as we like to do. Alongside him for the last three games has been young striker Liam Cullen or much-travelled veteran Jamie Paterson, who has yet to notch this season.
I’ve got no predictions on this one. Two teams that should have been much better but have hugely underwhelmed their fan bases. A boring 0-0 would be a fitting tribute.