Are Swansea ready for a real tilt at the title? Here's the lowdown on what's new at the Liberty Stadium.
Swansea struggled to cope with the demands of juggling Europa League commitments with a Premier League campaign last season and coupled with the sacking of Michael Laudrup it made for a difficult time at the Liberty Stadium. Garry Monk took the reins and things looked in the balance for a while – the Swans had just 29 points after 30 games - but four wins from last seven lifted the team into mid-table and raised hopes that those difficulties are now fully behind them. With a new-look team, can Swansea embark on a new adventure under their young coach?
Goalkeeper Michel Vorm has left for Tottenham, replaced by Lukasz Fabianski, while left-back Ben Davies has also made the journey to White Hart Lane. Chico Flores has gone and fans might also be sad to see the popular figure of Michu leave on loan, although they do get to welcome back Gylfi Sigurdsson – a player who scored seven Premier League goals for Swansea in the 2011/12 season. Goals will also be expected from Bafetimbi Gomis, while Jefferson Montero could excite.
Gomis could prove to be a fine acquisition for the Swans given that he was among the top 10 goalscorers in Ligue 1 last season. At 29, the powerful forward is at a good age to make an instant impact and has proven himself to be a reliable goalscorer – reaching double figures in each of his last eight seasons. If the France international can repeat that at Swansea it should be an enjoyable campaign for Monk’s men.
The brand of football remains and, of course, Swansea are still a well-run club. However, the faith placed in Monk must be regarded as something of a gamble given that this is his first job as a manager. The 35-year-old has his coaching badges but the learning curve is steep and it remains to be seen whether he can add to what’s in place at Swansea or merely tick things over. What’s certain is that a win percentage of below 30 per cent needs to improve.
Sky Bet Title odds – 4000/1
- 47.5% of Swansea’s passes last season came inside their own-half, a league-high proportion.
- Ashley Williams made 1936 passes last season, more than any other defender. Angel Rangel was second with 1936.
- Ivory Coast striker Wilfried Bony bagged a joint league-high five headed goals in 2013/14.
I thought Swansea would be pushing for the top six last year but they were disappointing. They had a few injuries to key players and the likes of Leon Britton were not quite at the level they were a couple of years ago. Changing manager mid-season didn’t help, either. I don’t know what’s going to happen to Wilfried Bony but I like Bafetimbi Gomis who they’ve signed and he will definitely score goals in the Premier League. Nathan Dyer can also score goals and has that bit of pace. I think they’ll be ok; they’ve got too much quality and belief in how they play to be involved in a relegation battle. I expect more from them than what they showed last year. If Bony stays, along with Gomis, they’ll be pushing top half.
Possible Swansea XI