Come 8pm on Monday Evening, the eyes of the footballing world will be focused on the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, as our beloved Swans become the first Welsh Premier League team to grace the Barclays Premier League. A decade ago, seeing the Swans in the Premier league would have been nothing more than a pipeline dream, however, we stand a mere hours away from rubbing shoulders with the world’s best as equals.
The supporters of Manchester City have seen much change over the past decade as well. Ten years ago, Manchester City were playing their trade in the as was First Division. Since then, they have transformed from a mid-table Premier League club to a Champions League quality club, mainly down to a move to the City of Manchester stadium in 2003 and investment in 2008 from the Abu Dhabi United Group. Since this investment, Man City has what seems to be an unlimited sum of money to spend at their disposal.
Their squad is blessed with talent across the park and are the envy of both managers and supporters alike all over the country and the continent. Strength and depth is not an issue for Mancini as he has internationals throughout his squad and perhaps his most difficult decision this season is who to pick for his 25 man Squad. Mancini has opted for a 4-3-3 formation since he joined the club last season. The midfield 3 will work as a unit and allow the fullbacks to go forward. In a similar system to us, two strikers will play as wingers with a centre forward.
Across the back
Mancini’s footballing philosophy is built around the stereotypical Italian idea of being defensively strong. They, alongside Chelsea conceded the least amount of goals last season with 33. In Joe Hart, they have one of England’s most promising young talents between the sticks. Should Mancini opt for the same side that played in the Community Shield, he will play the pairing of Lescott and Kompany with Micah Richards and Kolarov at full backs. They also have new signing Gael Clichy, Paulo Zabaletta and Stefan Savic to call upon although Kolo Toure will not be appearing as he continues to serve his ban for testing positive for a banned substance.
Middle of the Park
Their midfield is arguably one of the most talented in the league with David Silva and Yaya Toure pulling the strings, Milner, Barry and Adam Johnson possessing the ability to go forward with pace and ablility to deliver a defence splitting pass at any time. The midfield is held together by Nigel De Jong who is rated as one of the best holding midfielders currently playing.
Man City have seven strikers to call upon since the arrival of new signing Sergio Aguero from Athletico Madrid in the Summer although a place on the bench maybe the best he can hope for on Monday. Mario Ballottelli and Carlos Tevez have both stated that they do not like Manchester. Unsettled Tevez has been declared unavailable for Monday and Ballotelli is used as a winger by the manager. Luckily. Mancini could also play Edin Dzeko, Emmanuel Adebayor, Roque Santa Cruz and the Liberty Stadium’s favourite opposition player (cough, cough) Craig Bellamy
Last Time out – 2-3 Vs Manchester United
Hart; Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov; De Jong, Toure Yaya Silva; Milner, Balotelli; Dzeko
(Subs): Taylor, Wright-Phillips, Adam Johnson, Savic, Aguero, Barry, Clichy
The arrival of Dutch international goalkeeper Michael Vorm from Utrecht last week has bolstered the defensive lines. Elsewhere at the back, Alan Tate looks set to deputise for Neil Taylor at left back while he serves the last of his 3 match band. Steven Caulkner will make his first competitive Swans appearance alongside Ashley Williams with Angel Rangel continuing at right back. Rodgers main headache will come in the form of which 3 to play in midfield with Allen, Britton, Dobbie, and Agustien vying for 3 places in the centre of the park. Up front, Dyer and Sinclair will hope to continue their form from last season into this and hope to supply new boy Danny Graham with the tools in order to try and fire the Swans a win.
Probable Lineup: Vorm; Rangel, Caulkner, Williams, Tate; Britton, Agustien, Dobbie; Sinclair, Dyer; Graham.
Key Match Ups
Danny Graham Vs Vincent Kompany
No-one will underestimate the impact that Fabio Borini had on the Swans’ promotion push last season and the Jackarmy will be hoping that Graham will be able to continue the work that the young Italian did as a lone striker. Perhaps the most difficult role in football, it can be a frustrating 90 minutes for anyone playing alone up front. However, Graham proved at Watford last season that he has an eye for goal and is a natural finisher. Kompany will have to ensure that he is not given any sight at goal if they’d like to keep up their excellent defensive record.
Scott Sinclair Vs Micah Richards
The Swans have now built up a reputation whilst coming up through the divisions of being a team that play attractive and exciting football. In order to keep that up at the highest standard this year, Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyers pace and flair will be essential. Scott possess the pace and skill that has seen him win admirers from all over the country. Deadly from the penalty spot as well, Micah Richards will have a tough night on his hand should Scott see the ball for prolonged periods of time
Leon Britton Vs David Silva
When he gets into his stride, David Silva is one of if not the finest footballer in the world. His creativity is world class and if given the space, he will ensure that the City strike force will be given plenty of possession and chances. It’ll be up to Leon to ensure that he is given no time and space on the ball to ensure that the Swans defence don’t have more to deal with than is absolutely necessary
Steven Caulkner Vs Edin Dzeko
In his first start in a Swans shirt, it’ll be a bit of a baptism of fire for the young lad on loan from Tottenham. Edin Dzeko after making a slow start to life in the Premier League will be eager to prove a point and recreate his form that saw him secure a £27 million pound move from Wolfsburg in January.
Head to Head
After some research, it transpires that our last meeting with Man City was before I was born having spent 25 years in the lower reaches of the football league. However, for those interested here are a couple of past results:
7/4/1984 – Swansea 0-2 Man City
8/10/1983 – Man City 2-1 Swansea
12/3/1983 – Swansea 4-1 Man City
30/10/1982 – Man City 2-1 Swansea
17/4/1982 – Swansea 2-0 Man City
21/11/1981 – Man City 4-0 Swansea
You could buy Swansea’s record signing Danny Graham (£3.5 Million) 9 Times over and still have money left over in comparison to Man City’s record signing (Robinho £32.5 Million)
Joe Hart Kept the most Clean Sheets in the Premier league last season (18)
Both Teams do not draw many games with the Swans only drawing 8 last season and Man City not drawing in any of the last 16 in the league and cup
Swansea Will be the first welsh team to play in the Premier League!!!!
Not many outsiders are giving us a chance with prices of a Swans win at 14/1 with many bookmakers. However, Mancini and Rodgers will not believe it’s a foregone conclusion. Many bookmakers are seeing us as this seasons Blackpool but for me, I believe we will surpass these expectations as we have done in every league since promotion from league 2 under Jackett in 2005. Come 8pm Monday, it will be 11 vs 11 although I can see this game being a difficult one for us. I would be ecstatic with a draw therefore I am going to be optimistic and state a 1 all draw.
Be Loud, Be Proud and Support the Swans if you’re at Eastlands or your front room. Sticking by the team this season is crucial!! C’MON U SWANS!!