It’s been a hugely encouraging start to the season for Swansea City and confidence will be soaring. However, it’s only four short months ago that a Swans side equally full of hope and expectation visited Queens Park Rangers – are promptly got stuffed by four goals to nil! Can Cooper’s Swans right the wrongs of that day or will we receive another painful kick up The Rs? ATFV mulls over a potential banana skin in our QPR v Swans match preview, sponsored by Drop Bear Beer.
Steve Cooper is enjoying a charmed life as Swans Head Coach right now. Yet to taste defeat since taking over the reigns from Graham Potter, Cooper’s side has shown a remarkable ability to turn losing positions and performances into triumphs. The latest compelling comeback saw the Swans overturn a 0-1 deficit to record a thrilling 3-2 victory over Preston at the Liberty.
It leaves Cooper contemplating a seven point start and fourth place in the Championship table after the first three fixtures.
No doubt confidence will be high as the side head to the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium…but then it was same back in April when a Potter side still in with a shout of a play off place swaggered into West London for the formality of beating a mediocre Rangers team. Dan James was heroically sweeping all before him in a blaze of speed and trickery and former Swan Angel Rangel would surely be destroyed by the pocket rocket.
The Swans weren’t superior opponents that day, they were roadkill. It was Tom & Jerry stuff with the away side very definitely the cat that can’t get one over the seemingly weak house mouse.
Two down within five minutes, the Swans bubble was burst in emphatic fashion before many of the away fans had even taken their seats in the cramped old ground, whilst a harsh lesson was handed to the precocious James by a ramped up Rangel.
Overconfidence caught up with the Swans that day and if there’s any hint of it tomorrow then Cooper will come a cropper for the first time.
There certainly shouldn’t be any overconfidence in the ranks after that first half against Preston. It was dreadful. It will certainly give Cooper a few things to ponder as he surveys an almost fully fit squad that will be missing only the injured Nathan Dyer and the recuperating Tom Carroll, the latter having seen his first action in several months last night with a 45 minute run out in the U23’s draw with Aston Villa.
There should, however, be three names first on the teamsheet…well you know what I mean! Woodman, Borja and Ayew should all be automatic picks.
Woodman can now be considered undisputed Number 1 between the sticks. Although the goal he conceded against Preston looked a bad one it did apparently take a decisive deflection, and that aside his all round game was good. Besides, after his horror show at QPR earlier tis year, nobody in their right mind would put Nordfeldt between the sticks for this one!
Elsewhere at the back…Connor Roberts hasn’t had the best start to the season and so Kyle Naughton could come into the reckoning.
On the other side a strong second half showing last Saturday, including another assist, should see Jake Bidwell continue at left back.
In the heart of defence it was the Hoorn that gave away a goal but his partner Joe got the social media flak; they are likely to remain in tandem though with Cooper launch a rightly staunch defence of his young defender Rodon. However, both players need to up their games with Ben Wilmot straining at the leash and perform well in the Cup.
As mentioned above, Ayew of the Andre variety has surely cemented his place on the right, irrespective of any injury to Dyer. So far nobody can criticise Ayew for his commitment out on the field and he’s head and shoulders above most opponents in terms of ability. Having been let back into the ‘General Population’ I don’t see how Cooper cannot let him play in the exercise with the other inmates if he’s fit and ready.
That leaves the central spots and left wing…
…and I can’t quite believe I’m advocating this but it’s <arghhh> Celina on the <unghhh> wing with Byers in front of Grimes and Fulton.
It worked second half Saturday, turning the game in our favour. Celina actually had more of an influence on the game out wide and Byers is showing the goal scoring threat from that 10 position that marked him out in the U23s.
Talking of goals, we’re back to Borja being one of the three first names on this team sheet. He has to be. Aftwer all, the man’s making the greatest comeback since Morecambe & Wise returned to ITV after nine years at the Bluebirds Broadcasting Coporation…!
The Anticipated ATFV Line-Up: Woodman; Naughton; van der Hoorn; Rodon; Bidwell; Grimes; Fulton; Byers; Celina; Ayew; Borja
It’s been a mixed start to life under Mark Warburton for QPR; the new manager hasn’t had much bread to spend (ha, see what I did there? – Ed.) and its led to the loss of experienced pros like Jake Bidwell. Warburton’s loss has been Swansea City’s gain.
A loss last time out to Bristol City has slightly diminished a positive start to the season that saw victory over Stoke on the opening day with what’s likely to be uncontested as goal of the season…a goal straight out of the “Swansea Way” playbook, and no surprise as Swans Legend Angel Rangel was at the heart of it. The back to front passing move was eventually finished by talented youngster Eberechi Eze and he’ll need careful attention from Fulton for sure.
Elsewhere, Warburton has the talents of West Ham loanee Jordon Hugill to call upon up front and American defensive stalwart Geoff Cameron. The Boss has also brought in big Yoann Barbet from one of his former clubs Brentford to add some defensive muscle.
It’s at goalkeeper where selection gets interesting for Warburton. First choice Joe Lumley is under threat after a horrendous cock up cost a goal in last Saturday’s defeat to Bristol City and Warburton has Liam Kelly waiting in the wings. Warburton brought in Kelly as he’s adept at playing the ball with his feet, essential to Warburton’s game plan, and where Lumley failed against Brizzle Kelly excelled in the Carabao Cup a few days before against the same opposition.
As stated, Warburton likes to play a possession game but he will noted how Preston’s high press put the Swans on the back foot and he’ll also be reminding his players how the “swarm effect” finished the game in five minutes the last time both sides met. That said, Rangers still have a somewhat soft centre and a roving, roaming Andre Ayew is going to be a deep concern for them and there will be a heavy onus on young defensive midfielder Matt Smith, on loan from Manchester City, to track what Ayew is doing.
And if all else fails, Warburton’s looking for a slice of good fortune < Bah-dum-tsch >
In my last match preview prediction I accurately foresaw the three goal haul for the Swans…I just failed to factor in the two goals preston would put past us! I was pretty confident going into that preston match up, I’m less so in advance of this fixture. Having said that, the Swans are ticking over nicely at times this season and will be highly motivated to right the wrongs of last season’s hiding in West London. As long as overconfidence doesn’t overwhelm the side again a draw at the very least is more than attainable. And with the stand out talents of Borja and Ayew in our ranks anything is possible. So I’m going to take a punt and predict a 1-2 win for Cooper’s Troopers, and over confidence be damned!
Your QPR v Swans Match Preview is brought to you by ATFV in association with Drop Bear Beer