“Number 3 – Barnsley, will play Number 38 – Swansea City”
“Yes!” I screamed. Now this may seem unusual to most, a trip to deepest South Yorkshire in January doesn’t immediately strike you as the most appealing trip, but from my flat in Sheffield, I am only 20 minutes away, making it a very short away trip.
The FA cup 3rd round is the highlight of many football fans’ calendar but this season, with the Swans rubbing shoulders with the elite of English football every week, it plays less importance than usual. In fact, if anything, the cup is a distraction this season from the priority that is Premier League survival. However, would we turn down another two trips to Wembley? I for one wouldn’t.
It’s highly likely that Brendan Rodgers will chop and change the team ahead of Saturday’s game. It’s likely that many of the fringe players will get a run out at Oakwell. Gehard Tremmel is in line to make his first start between the sticks for the Swans and new signings Gylfi Sigurdsson and Rory Donnelly will be vying to play for the first time in Swans shirts. Youngsters Lee Lucas and Daniel Alfei will be looking to make an impression as they continue to take steps in their fledging football careers. Darnell Situ is on the verge of getting international clearance and could take his place at the back alongside club captain Gary Monk.
Barnsley currently sit in 16th in the Npower Championship. This is their 6th season in succession in the 2nd tier of English football following their promotion in 2005/6. Most Swans fans need no reminding about the manner of their promotion. It was at our expense when the Tykes defeated us on penalties at the Millenium Stadium. Since their promotion, they’ve been residents of the bottom half of the table.
Under Keith Hill this season, they have looked more threatening towards the top half of the table and at the moment find themselves 6 points off the playoffs. Come Saturday, they will be looking to bounce back following a disappointing 2-0 defeat at the hands of local rivals Doncaster Rovers. In that game, they lined up in a 5-3-2 formation.
Last time out: 0-2 vs Doncaster Rovers
Steele; Hassel, McEverley, Foster, Wiseman, McNulty; Done, Addison, Perkins; Davies, Vaz Te
At the Back
Luke Steele has been ever present as a goalkeeper for the Tykes ever since their FA cup run in 2008. Club captain Bobby Hassel plays at centre back alongside experienced defenders Jay McEverley and Stephen Foster. Jim McNulty and Scott Wiseman act at the Tykes’ fullbacks. A Welshman in the defensive ranks at Barnsley is Rob Edwards and will be hoping to force his way into the team on Saturday.
In the Middle
Miles Addison on loan from Derby can offer extra defensive cover. Matt Done is a graduate from Wrexham academy and followed Hill from Rochdale to Oakwell in the summer. David Perkins, Jim O’Brien and Paul Digby can all play in the midfield. Danny Butterfield has recently been ruled out for the rest of the season but the signing of former Cardiff City Midfielder Danny Drinkwater on loan from Manchester United is expected to be completed in time for Saturday’s game.
Ricardo Vaz Te is leading the scoring charts for Barnsley this season, scoring 10 goals in the league. Not far behind is Welshman Craig Davies. Newcaslte loanee Nile Ranger, experienced Danny Haynes, Andy Gray, Jordan Clark and Danny Rose are able to lead the line for Barnsley. Hill has just signed Chris Dagnall from Scunthorpe but he is ineligible for Saturday.
Before writing this, I am writing this on what I believe will be the starting line-up and am aware that some of these could be wrong
1. Garry Monk vs Ricardo Vaz Te
Vaz Te is a potentially dangerous threat. He has played in the Premier League scoring 3 goals for Bolton Wanderers in 58 games. He’s also a Portugese under 21 international and has scored 10 goals this term. Garry Monk will have to ensure that Vaz Te returns to his usual non scoring form and will also be tasked with captaining an inexperienced side. A big game will be required.
2. Gylfi Sigurdsson vs Miles Addison
Gylfi is known for his goalscoring ability from midfield and is highly reputed for his set piece ability. He will be looking to make an instant impact in midfield and stake a claim for a regular 1st team place with competition fierce. Addison as the holding midfielder will have to ensure he is not allowed to do this.
3. Mark Gower/Lee Lucas vs Matt Done
Matt Done is a player I have admired from when I used to watch Wrexham whilst visiting the Grandparents. A very skilful player who is quick with an eye for goal. It is between Lucas or Gower I think who will get the nod in midfield and whichever does, will have to keep a close eye on the welsh youngster
4. Rory Donnelly vs Jay McEverley
There is much excitement about the youngster from Northern Ireland. I believe he will make an appearance at some point during the game and has an eye for goal which he’ll be looking to show instantly. McEverley is an experienced centre half and will be facing the unknown against him
Head to Head
Swansea’s only meeting against the Tykes in the competition came way back in 1927 when the Swans were victorious from 3 goals to 1. There have been 70 games between the two sides with Swansea winning 33, Barnsley 23 and 14 draws.
Past 6 Meetings
22-1-11 Barnsley 1-1 Swansea
28-12-10 Swansea 1-0 Barnsley
17-4-10 Swansea 3-1 Barnsley
19-9-09 Barnsley 0-0 Swansea
13-5-09 Barnsley 1-3 Swansea
9-12-08 Swansea 2-2 Barnsley
How much do the Swans care about the cup this year? The priority is definatley survival this year but the FA cup is still a great competition that deserves the utmost respect. I believe we will have enough to see of Barnsley on Saturday and get into round 4. On a side note, any fans reading this that are in Barnsley on Saturday, keep an eye out for me I’ll be around the ground with a microphone taking fans opinions on the FA cup for my coursework. Feel free to stop and give your opinions it will be much appreciated.
Prediction – Barnsley 0-2 Swansea