Swansea – Hull City (Premier League)
One of the most exciting aspects of English football is undoubtedly the uncertainty of the results, something that applies to both the Premier League and all the other tiers in the huge building that is English football. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising to learn that these two sides met in the fourth tier just 10 seasons ago (Swansea’s Leon Britton actually played that very match) – and now both teams are soaring in the world’s most thrilling league, where they will be pitted against each other for the first time ever at such a level at the Liberty Stadium.
The Welsh team led by Michael Laudrup have not been in stellar form this season, something that might have something to do with the involvement in the Europa League (just ask Newcastle’s Alan Pardew). Therefore, the Dane could hardly be happier when he saw his side bounce back from a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City last weekend and end Newcastle’s four-match winning streak by walloping them 3-0 (a result that looks even more impressive after the Magpies’ shocking win at Old Trafford last Saturday), including an own goal. In fact, Swansea have been on the good side of own goals 4 times this season (2 of their last five goals have been provided by their opponents), more than any other team in the competition. The Swans will try to capitalise on their only second home success this season and aim for a second consecutive Premier League home win, something they haven’t done in over a year. However, Laudrup will probably have to do without a single striker – with Michu, Bony and Vázquez all injured – which did not stop them from comprehensively beating Pardew’s men. The Danish manager will certainly try to keep the team’s momentum before a crucial Europa League match at St Gallen next Thursday. Even though the Liberty Stadium has not been lately the fortress it used to be, Swansea have still scored 14 goals at home so far (the most in the Premier League barring the top 4 sides), which has led to the side avoiding defeat in their last four home fixtures, including three clean sheets. On the injury front, Michu (ankle), Monk (knee), Bony (hamstring), Rangel (calf), Vazquez (groin) are all expected to sit this one out.
Probable line-up: Vorm – Tiendalli, Chico, Williams, Davies – Canas, Hernandez, Shelvey – De Guzman, Pozuelo, Routledge
Steve Bruce’s Hull currently sit one point and one place below their opponents (12th). Their week brought them mixed feelings, with a 3-1 win over overachievers Liverpool and a 2-0 defeat at Arsenal. Their recent form has not been impressive either, with 5 defeats in their last 7 matches in England’s top tier (representing 6 in 21 possible points). While history shows that they have won three (and lost none) of their last four league meetings with Swansea, their track record also indicates they have won only one of their last 31 Premier League away matches (including 23 defeats). If we take it a bit further, we will be able to see that Hull have only taken 10 points from a possible 93 in their last 23 away games in the competition. To make matters worse, Bruce won’t be able to call upon Aluko (Achilles), McShane and Quinn (both hamstring).
Probable line-up: McGregor – Chester, Figueroa, Davies, Brady – Elmohamady, Livermore, Huddlestone, Meyler – Graham, Sagbo
This match’s main point of interest should be to confirm who will be able to step out of the doldrums. The fixture will also bring in all likelihood a clash of styles, with the Swans averaging 59.2% in possession so far, while only 3 teams boast lower figures than Hull (43.3%). So far, both teams’ results have not varied much, but it should be fascinating to see who comes out on top – and with which strategy.