Emirates FA Cup 3rd Round – Oxford United v Swans at 12:00 on Sunday, 10th January 2016
Referee: Kevin Friend
Assistant Referees: Darren Cann & Simon Beck
Fourth Official: Keith Hill
With Alan Curtis having now been appointed the Swans manager until the end of the season, this weekend’s FA Cup tie at Oxford United presents a welcome opportunity for him to not only give fringe players a chance to impress but also the chance to improve confidence with a victory.
There is no doubt about it that the Premier League is the main priority but an opportunity to go on a cup run and gaining much needed confidence through winning games cannot be ignored either. An additional benefit is that Curtis would have the opportunity (dependant upon opposition of course) to cast an eye over his squad, many of whom haven’t been seen in competitive action since exiting the Capital One Cup in Hull in September!
Whatever side the Swans put out, they will be faced with by an Oxford team full of confidence, having lost only 4 times in the last 33 matches and whom currently lay in 3rd place in the League Two table.
Judging by the comments made by U’s boss Michael Appleton in the press this week, they obviously fancy their chances stating:
If they aren’t quite at it and we play well on the day and play to our potential there’s no reason why we can’t cause an upset.”
Backed by a sell-out crowd of 12,500 – including a contingent of 1,500 from the Jack Army – the Kassam Stadium will be bouncing and no doubt will go to support their side perhaps more in hope than expectation but as fans of the Swans, we know only too well what an FA Cup giant-killing feels like. Curtis will no doubt use all of his experience to emphasize to his team the importance of not underestimating their opponents.
In terms of team selection, another factor that will influence the Swans starting XI is the small matter of Sunderland visiting the Liberty Stadium next Wednesday. So whilst there will be no doubt some prominent players in the team that starts, it is unlikely that we will see the majority of the team that will start against Sunderland.
If the newspaper columns are anything to go by then goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Jordi Amat, Kyle Bartley and Frank Tabanou will feature, along with Jefferson Montero, Modou Barrow and Jonjo Shelvey. It will be interesting to see how the likes of Shelvey perform given the fact that he is rumoured to be a target for both Newcastle United and Crystal Palace.
As for the U’s, well they will be without on-loan striker Chris Maguire as parent club Rotherham United don’t want him to be Cup tied and Appleton has hinted that he will juggle his team given that Oxford have important games coming up against Millwall in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy area final and a top of the table League 2 clash with Bristol Rovers coming up.
Ironically the Swans have met Oxford United in the FA Cup before, win the Swans winning 5-4 on penalties following a replay back in January 1993. Defensively, the omens aren’t good as the Swans have not kept a clean sheet in their last 10 away games in the FA Cup, last shutting out Portsmouth in 2009.
The last time the sides met in the league at the Kassam Stadium was in December 2004, when Marc Goodfellow scored the only goal as the 2nd placed Swans returned with all three points. The Swans side that day featured Garry Monk and Roberto Martinez – how times have changed in 11 years!
Although it is likely to be a tough afternoon for a new look Swans side, we’re backing them to chalk up a narrow victory and add the FA Cup tie winners money of £67,500 to the covers… which should cover someone’s wages for the week 🙂
Oxford United 1 Swans 2
Current League Form (Last 6)
Oxford United: WDWLD
Predicted Swans Starting XI:
Nordfeldt, Naughton, Bartley, Amat, Tabanou, Britton (capt), Grimes, Montero, Shelvey, Barrow, Eder.
At the Bookies
Those of you who fancy a flutter might want to check out the odds being offered on the game at the moment.
If you fancy the goal-shy Swans to go crazy and beat Oxford United 3-1 then you’ll get odds of 18/1.
You’ll get odds of 7/2 on a 1-1, 2-2 or 3-3 draw.
Or how about Eder scoring a brace at odds of 10/1.
Let us know your thoughts – whether on the game or the betting odds(!) using the comment box below 🙂