What a week to be a Jack! First, we enjoyed and endured (in equal measures) what can only be described as the Jonjo Shelvey show on Monday night against Liverpool in the Premier League. Then, on Thursday, we destroyed the mighty Valencia away from home 3-0 in the Europa League, backed by over 2,000 ecstatic supporters. Whether you were there in person or watched on TV, it is fair to say that the game at the Mestalla was one of those nights that will live long in the memory.
Onwards and upwards though, next up is Crystal Palace this Sunday in a 1.30pm kick off at Selhurst Park, South London. This is our third competitive game of the week and is one where we will need to be fully committed following the euphoria of Spain, otherwise we will come away with nothing.
Reading the Palace message boards, their fans are keen to point out that the Swans will be tired after a hectic week. However, the good news is that Laurdup rotated the squad to excellent effect on Thursday night with the “fresh legs” of Pozeulo, Tiendalli, Amat, De Guzman, Canas and Lamah all giving a good account of themselves. This affords us the opportunity to bring back the likes of Britton, Routledge, Shelvey and Williams (if recovered from an ankle injury) to face Palace. In addition, others such as Angel Rangel, Ben Davies and Michu were spared a full 90 minutes against Valencia, meaning that they should have a bit left in the tank for Sunday.
I would expect Jonjo Shelvey to be looking forward to this one. As a former Charlton Athletic player, he is likely to get some abuse from the Selhurst faithful, but we know that he is a strong character and should be more than capable of dealing with it. He will also want to make amends for what happened against Liverpool. I’m going for a Jonjo special from 30 yards! Wayne Routledge should also be raring to go. Wayne grew up just down the road from Selhurst Park and as a former Palace trainee will be backed by a good number of family and friends.
So what can we expect from the opposition? Palace joined the Premier League this season courtesy of a 1-0 play-off victory at Wembley last May against Gianfranco Zola’s Watford. They are led by the ever excitable Ian Holloway, one of the most colourful characters in football and a big fan of the Swans’ passing football. In fact, he has previously gone on record as saying that he changed his coaching ethos after watching Roberto Martinez’s Swansea City team.
Realistically, Holloway will need to work a miracle to keep the Eagles up this year, but he’s a wily old fox and despite minimal resources compared to the majority of the sides in the division, he’ll without doubt, have a damn good try. After 4 games, Palace sit in 18th place in the Premier League, with a total of 3 points, having lost 3 and won 1. Their only points came from a 3-1 home victory against Sunderland, with goals from Welsh international defender and former blue (red) bird Danny Gabbidon, striker Dwight Gayle and youngster Stuart O’Keefe. They have also lost 2-1 to Bristol City in the second round of the Capital One Cup.
Palace, have had to be realistic in the transfer market over the Summer, avoiding the temptation to break the bank and ruin the club in the process. They actually recruited around 16 players, but relied heavily on players from the Championship, loan signings and free transfers, spending £23 million in the process. Their biggest piece of business involved the recruitment of pacey striker Dwight Gayle from Peterborough United for £4.66 million. Other notable signings included defender Adrian Mariappa from Reading, Algerian midfielder Adlene Guedioura from Nottingham Forest and Barry Bannan from Aston Villa. Players joining on loan have included Stoke City striker Cameron Jerome and Southampton wide man Jason Puncheon, both decent players on their day.
Former Swan Stephen Dobbie actually joined the side on a permanent basis during the Summer from Brighton after a successful loan last season, however he since been omitted from the 25 man Premier League squad for the season and looks likely to head out on loan shortly.
So what about the teams?
Swansea City: The side is a little more difficult to predict than usual due to the number of games we are playing at the moment, however the following team shouldn’t be too far off the mark. Michel Vorm could play his third game of the week in goal, though don’t rule out the possibility of Gerhard Tremmel stepping in as his more the able understudy. In defence will be Rangel, Davies, Chico and Williams or Amat (depending on Ash’s ankle). A central midfield of Britton, Shelvey and one other can be expected, possibly Michu. Routledge and Dyer are likely to occupy the wide positions. Bony or even new signing Vazquez could start up front. Definitely missing through injury will be full back Neil Taylor and winger Pablo Hernandez.
It would be nice to see deadline day signing Alvaro Vazquez have some time on the pitch on Sunday. It’s still early days for our new striker from Getafe though and if he misses out this time, he is sure to be involved against Birmingham in mid-week.
Crystal Palace: Having signed so many players in the Summer, Ian Holloway has yet to settle on an established starting 11. He is also facing something of an injury crisis, with Joel Ward (calf) joining long-term absentees Jonny Williams and Jack Hunt (both ankle), Glenn Murray (knee) and captain Paddy McCarthy (groin) on the sidelines. I was looking forward to watching Welsh international midfielder Williams as he is beginning to make a real name for himself, though he is still young and has plenty of time to continue his development.
The possible Palace team could be: Speroni, Campana, Mariappa, Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey, Guedioura / Bannan, Puncheon, Jedinak, Gayle, Chamakh. They have a number of potential alternatives, including forwards Cameron Jerome, veteran Kevin Philips, Jerome Thomas and former Reading winger Jimmy Kebe.
Finally, the match day referee is Kevin Friend, though I’m sure we’d prefer the official we had against Valencia last Monday – we’d have never got a decision like that (the sending off) in the Premier League against one of the big sides!
See you in London. I can’t believe I’m having to get up at 5.45am on a Sunday morning!