Pre Match Musings: Swansea City v Millwall

After eyeing the Tigers on Saturday, it's the second half of the Big Cat Double Bill as Swansea City take on the Lions at the DotCom. The Tigers from Hull were hunted down but eventually let off the hook, and now the Editor ponders over whether the Swans will meet a Millwall brick wall or can the home side bag some big game and three very much needed points?

Initial Thoughts

A Saturday stalemate against Hull was extremely frustrating. The Swans turned the Tigers into kitty litter with a remorseless passing game bringing with it near total domination of the football, but a failure to take any of the chances created meant another goalless game and only a single point bagged.

That left the Swans perched just a place above the relegation zone on Sunday morning with Hull a place above on goal difference. However last night’s round of Championship results were pretty kind to the Swans and they actually swapped places with the Tigers as they crashed to a 2-0 defeat at Blackburn.

It means that the Swans can afford to look upwards this evening and they can climb as high as 12th IF other results continue to go their way…

…but transferring possession into goals and into maximum points is essential for that to happen.

Look, it’s very simple. For all the talk of patience and progress, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE including the management and players, needs to understand that results are as crucial as performances. Scoring over 700 passes per game but not scoring any goals will get you relegated. That is a fact. And all the plaudits for a pure passing game won’t count for anything as the club crashes through the Championship trapdoor 

That isn’t to say that Martin’s men should suddenly revert to full on Cooperball – far from it.

But it does mean that Sexy Russ has to get his side to stop lifting its skirts and merely flirting, and instead go full on risqué and start taking some risks in the final third whilst being willing to turn the key on the chastity belt at the back.

It’s about playing the percentages at the right times, adding a dash of pragmatism to the purism.

I said before Saturday’s game that it was the sort of fixture – a home one against a newly promoted side that hadn’t scored since the opening day – that simply had to be won if we want to stay out of trouble. Tonight’s fixture falls into the same category for Millwall sit just a couple of places above us in the table courtesy of one more draw and one less defeat over the first six matches.

With home advantage we have to see this as an opportunity to pick up the three points which gives us the breathing space to continue adapting our game into something more aspirational.

That doesn’t mean it will be easy. Far from it, as the Lions proved last time out by holding high flying West Brom to a draw at the Hawthorns.

So my message to Sexy Russ and his raunchy charges is take nothing for granted, but find a way to win

 

Martin's Men

It’s pretty much same again in terms of availability with Rhys Williams recovering from a slight knock picked up against Hull. Only Korey Smith and Liam Walsh remain unavailable but both are training and closing in on a return to first team action. 

Going slightly – ok well off – topic here, I’m convinced that Walsh would be wearing a red shirt if he guest starred in an episode of Star Trek. If anyone’s going to go down seriously injured on an away mission it’s going to be Walshy. In fact, I’d hazard a guess that he’d injure himself just climbing onto the transporter pad, probably blowing his own leg off with an unsecured phaser or something.

I make light of it but the truth is I really want to see what this lad can do, especially in the sort of set up that Sexy Russ favours, and it makes me sad that a player with such obvious potential is being held back because of sheer bad luck on the injury front. Let’s hope that when he makes his latest recovery he gets some good luck for a change and is able to put a run of games together.

It was a huge bonus welcoming back both Flynn Downes and Ben Cabango after bouts of Covid and Downes showed his character last Saturday, not just getting through all 95 minutes of the game against Hull, but by putting in a Man of the Match performance (for me anyway) in the process.

It all adds up to a glut of options for the manager – but will he use any of them or will he stick to the same team that started against the Tigers for this latest test against the Lions?? 

The Opposition

Leader of the Lions pack Gary Rowett will be quietly confident of getting a result tonight, despite not having won away from home yet this season.

Four points from the last two games has really kickstarted their season.

Confidence will be high after a decent performance and an excellent result against top of the table West Brom last time out. 

Indeed Millwall could have stolen all three points against the Baggies if on loan Liverpool winger Ojo had his mojo and buried one of the two glorious chances that came his way towards the end of that game.

Of course Ojo was a Bluebird last season so his mojo was probably lost forever when he was asked to hoof it as high and hard as he could, and its probably at the bottom of the River Taff now.

There’s only one significant injury for the Lions and it means that powerful striker Benik Afobe will sit this one out, and the Lions will be without their MANE man up front. Geddit? Oh why do I bother‽ 

The Ed's XI

Last Saturday’s line up showed one thing – Sexy Russ ain’t afraid of making the big calls as he sees them.

The biggest of those calls was to drop Benda and instead install Ben Hamer between the sticks.

Throwing Flynn Downes straight back in after his debilitating bout of Covid, despite plenty of other options, was another big call and the player never let him down for a second.

Now I’d make a big call here but it isn’t one I’d expect the manager to have in his mind…against a big and powerful Lions side, and with Downes fulfilling a role picking up the ball from the back three and starting our moves so well, I’d sacrifice Kyle Naughton (not literally Kyle, you’re safe buddy) and bring Ben Cabango in alongside Rhys Williams and Ryan Bennett.

I’d also give Ryan Manning the chance to give us the same drive and delivery on the left side as Ethan Laird provides on the right, with Jake Bidwell dropping down to bench duty.

Everything else I’d keep the same as Saturday…but I’m expecting the manager to go for an unchanged line up to start this evening which would mean the following players running out of the DotCom tunnel: Hamer; Laird; Bennett; Naughton; Williams; Bidwell; Grimes; Downes; Ntcham; Piroe; Paterson 

Prediction

I’m going to have a word with the Editor of this site and get the ‘Prediction’ section removed from this feature…oh wait, I AM the Editor! Which means I can either take the easy option and erase this part of the preview forever, or I can put on my big boy bloomers and persist until I get a prediction right! 

So here we go again.

All things point me towards a Swans win here tonight – we are at home, need a win on our own turf and have a great recent record against our opponents (four wins in the last six). There is also the fact that we were entirely dominant in our last run out and if we have a little more luck then the Grimes effort that hits the post Saturday goes in tonight, or the penalty that Keith Stroud mysteriously failed to give at the weekend is placed on the spot for Grimes to smash in tonight.

And after doing my best to convince myself that we are going to charge to only our second win of the season I’m going to have to nail those colours to the mast and predict a narrow victory, with one chance finally being snapped up whilst starving the Lions of any opportunity to sink their teeth in…

Swansea City 1 v 0 Millwall

These Pre Match Musings are brought to you in association with Swansea Electrical Solutions  sparking the debate before the match kicks off