3 reasons why Swansea City could be promotion dark-horses in the Championship this season
If there is any team that has taken all sets of fans by surprise with its stellar start to the season in the Championship, it has to be none other than Swansea City.
Indeed, even the most ardent of the club’s followers wouldn’t have hoped for such a positive start to the campaign following multiple setbacks in the summer but the Swans have already laid down an early marker in the Championship.
The departure of former boss Graham Potter to Brighton was deemed to be a massive blow, while the sale of last season’s top-scorer Oliver McBurnie and promising starlet Daniel James in the transfer market depleted the squad of some top-quality attackers.
Swansea’s 1-0 triumph over promotion heavyweights Leeds United at Elland Road last week marked their fifth victory in the opening six rounds of the league, taking Steve Cooper’s side to the top of the table heading into the first international break of the season.
Well, it might be too early to draw a conclusion, considering the punishing schedule of the Championship later on in the season, but Swansea might find themselves in the race for promotion if they manage to capitalise on their impressive start and maintain the desired level of consistency over the entirety of the campaign.
With that in mind, let us take a look at 3 reasons as to why the Welsh outfit could potentially be regarded as promotion dark-horses:-
1. The impressive young brigade
Graham Potter’s proficiency in bringing the best out of the youngsters was instrumental in guiding Swansea to a top-ten finish in the Championship last season and in Steve Cooper, the Swans seem to have found an ideal replacement as a manager with a similar set of skills.
Cooper has not only shown a lot of trust in the existing core of young players at the club, including the likes of Bersant Celina, Yan Dhanda, Goerge Byers, Conor Roberts, Joe Rodon and Matt Grimes but he also brought in emerging talents like Freddie Woodman and Sam Surridge on loan from Newcastle United and Bournemouth earlier in the summer.
Much to the pleasure of the Swansea faithful, all the aforementioned players have already made an impact to varying degrees and Cooper’s ability to inspire the young brigade at the Liberty Stadium has paid rich dividends so far.
To that end though, it remains to be seen whether the young brigade at the Liberty Stadium is formidable enough to weather the challenges put forward by a league as gruelling and punishing as the Championship.
Swansea have a very young squad and Cooper will have to bring his intelligence into play to prevent the lack of depth from being exposed, especially in the latter stages of the campaign when the race for promotion heats up.
2. The resurgence of Borja Baston and Andre Ayew
With both the aforementioned players on loan last season, neither of them seemed to have a future at the Liberty Stadium but Cooper thought otherwise.
Baston was deemed good enough to lead the line for Swansea by new manager Cooper after the Spaniard shined in some of the pre-season fixtures, while Ayew looked poised for an exit all summer, only for Cooper to convince the Ghanaian winger to stay put at the club.
And if the first six games in the Championship are anything to go by, the Swans have already reaped rich rewards from the manager’s masterstroke, with both Baston and Ayew establishing themselves as key components of the attack.
While Ayew’s reinstatement in the first-team fold has enriched Swansea’s wide attacking options with a lot of quality and experience, Baston currently finds himself atop the scoring charts in the Championship, with both the players adapting seamlessly to Cooper’s tactics.
Indeed, Ayew and Baston have a lot of top-level experience under their belt and their presence could be absolutely indispensable to Swansea’s hopes of building a team with the perfect blend of youth and experience.
3. Home form
The Swans won 12 and drew 6 of their 23 fixtures at home in the Championship under Potter last season, meaning that the Swans claimed 42 out of a possible 69 points on offer. That amounts to a success rate of around 60%, which was pretty good as far as the circumstances were concerned.
And things have certainly gone better for the Swans this term since the arrival of Cooper, with the Welsh outfit winning each of their first three fixtures at the Liberty Stadium, thus heading into the international break with a 100% record at home.
One might argue that it is only the beginning of a long and hard slog in the Championship this season but Swansea’s encouraging start to the campaign has definitely had a lot to with their impressive form at home.
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The fans will be hoping that they manage to turn the Liberty Stadium into some kind of a fortress, which is likely to improve their chances of challenging for promotion.
[Image] Man United vs Arsenal: Star-studded combined XI featuring 4 Red Devils and 7 Gunners
Man United vs Arsenal: Combined XI featuring 4 Red Devils and 7 Gunners
After a round of EFL Cup fixtures, Premier League action is set to return this weekend with plenty of thrills and spills and the high-octane clash between Man United and Arsenal on Monday night is undoubtedly going to be one of the main attractions of matchweek 7.
Both the teams won their EFL Cup fixtures, with Arsenal handing Nottingham Forest a 5-0 drubbing and Man United somehow edging past a lowly Rochdale in the penalty shootout.
Arsenal are currently placed 4th in the Premier League standings after a 3-2 victory over Aston Villa last week and the fans will be expecting the Gunners to continue their winning run, while Man United will have their work cut out away from home after a 2-0 defeat at the hands of West Ham last week.
Bernd Leno (GK)
The German has proven his worth between the sticks on numerous occasions with some fine saves this season and he certainly deserves the nod over de Gea, who has been a bit inconsistent.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (RB)
The youngster has proven himself to be an excellent addition to Man United’s backline and it is a no-brainer that he has fared way better than Maitland-Niles in that position.
Harry Maguire (CB)
The England international has added a lot of steel to United’s backline following his big-money move from Leicester City earlier in the summer. One of the best centre-backs in the Premier League, he definitely deserves a place ahead of the error-prone David Luiz in the elite combined line-up.
The Greek international has hardly been at his best but Victor Lindelof too, has been equally lacklustre and there isn’t really a lot to choose between them so far this term.
Kieran Tierney (LB)
The Scotsman made his first start for the Gunners since his move from Celtic back in August and the fans will be expecting him to play a big part on Monday if he starts.
Matteo Guendouzi (CDM)
The Frenchman has arguably been Arsenal’s most influential presence in the middle of the park with his excellent all-round game, leapfrogging Fred, Matic, Xhaka and Torreira on the performance charts.
Scott McTominay (CDM)
The youngster has really come of age for United this term and his combative and energetic displays in the middle of the park have caught the eye amidst a lot of mediocrity from his teammates, including star man Paul Pogba.
Nicolas Pepe (RW)
The Ivorian is currently on high spirits after bagging his first goal for Arsenal against Aston Villa last week and though he hasn’t done anything spectacular yet, there is hardly a better player from either team in that role.
Daniel James (LW)
The former Swansea City starlet has taken the Premier League by storm this season and he will be United’s best bet to find the net on Monday.
Dani Ceballos (CAM)
The Spaniard has shown a lot of promise in that No.10 role for the Gunners and he definitely deserves the nod ahead of big names like Juan Mata and Mesut Ozil.
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (ST)
The Gabonese international has become a nemesis for the defenders in the Premier League and with an impressive tally 6 goals in 6 league outings this season, Arsenal will look up to him to propel them to a victory over rivals United on Monday.
[Image] Predicted 4-2-3-1 Man United XI to face Arsenal – Can Maguire keep Aubameyang quiet?
Predicted Man United XI to face Arsenal in the Premier League
Man United got themselves back to winning ways with a hard-fought penalty shootout victory over Rochdale in the EFL Cup but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are going to have their work cut out when they play host to Arsenal in the Premier League on Monday night.
The Red Devils came under scrutiny after their disappointing 2-0 defeat at the hands of West Ham away from home last week and they will be desperate to come away with a positive result against the Gunners on Monday having won only 2 of their first 6 games in the Premier League so far.
Unai Emery’s side will head into the game high on confidence after having the final say in the 3-2 thriller against Aston Villa followed by a 5-0 demolition of Nottingham Forest in the EFL Cup.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has plenty of injuries to contend with for Monday’s high-octane clash. Eric Bailly and Timothy Fosu-Mensah are ruled out with long-term knee injuries but a number of key first-team players are also doubtful to play a part against the Gunners.
Marcus Rashford (groin), Anthony Martial (thigh) and Luke Shaw (thigh) are yet to recover fully from their respective injuries and their availability will be subject to a late fitness test.
Solskjaer is expected to make multiple changes to the eleven that played against Rochdale on Wednesday night.
David de Gea (GK)
The Spaniard has shown signs of returning to his best after signing a new deal with the club and he is expected to replace Sergio Romero on Monday.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (RB)
The former Crystal Palace man has been one of the Red Devils’ shining lights in what has otherwise been a rather disappointing start to the season.
Victor Lindelof (CB)
The Swedish international has blown hot and cold at the heart of the defence this season and United will need him to put in a better performance against a potent Arsenal attack.
Harry Maguire (CB)
The Englishman is an undisputed starter for United every week and he has to be at his best to keep the free-scoring Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at bay.
Ashley Young (LB)
Luke Shaw is unlikely to make it back to the starting eleven on Monday, meaning that the veteran could get yet another start.
Scott McTominay (CDM)
The youngster has put in a number of impressive performances at the heart of the midfield this season and Solskjaer should continue to rely on him.
Paul Pogba (CDM)
His return to fitness before the crunch game against the Gunners is definitely a massive boost for United and the Red Devils will bank on him to come up with something spectacular on Monday.
Andreas Pereira (RW)
The Brazilian hasn’t done an awful lot but he is likely to find himself amongst the starters once again if Martial and Rashford do not make it back in time.
Juan Mata (CAM)
The Spaniard has hardly been at his sparkling best but Jesse Lingard, too, has been a big disappointment and Solskajer might just go with experience in a high-octane clash.
Daniel James (LW)
The jet-heeled Welsh starlet has arguably been United’s best performer in the Premier League thus far and it will be interesting to see how he goes about things against Arsenal.
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Mason Greenwood (ST)
The academy graduate has scored in the Europa League and the EFL Cup in the past week or so and injuries to Rashford and Martial might just open the door for him to get a start in the Premier League.
No Eriksen, no problem – 3 top-class replacements who Tottenham can consider including these Serie A stars
3 ideal replacements for Christian Eriksen at Tottenham next summer
Tottenham came out of their miserly habits to spend big this summer but the Lilywhites still have plenty of issues to sort out after an indifferent start to the Premier League campaign.
The North Londoners grabbed the headlines with big-money deals for Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon earlier in the summer but if the first seven games are anything to go by, Spurs still have plenty of gaps to plug if they are to push on under the stewardship of Mauricio Pochettino and ultimately challenge for the Premier League crown.
Indeed, the arrival of Lo Celso and club-record signing Tanguy Ndombele has strengthened Spurs’ cavalry in the middle of the park but Pochettino is likely to have a few more targets high on his wishlist for the upcoming transfer windows.
While a replacement for Kieran Tripper continues to be a nagging issue, the transfer saga involving influential playmaker Christian Eriksen has turned into a big distraction for the club, with the Dane stalling over signing a new deal.
Eriksen, who is out of contract next summer, continues to be a game-changer for Spurs but the Lilywhites might as well start preparing for life without him next summer.
It’s pretty evident that he has his heart set on a move to a bigger club to challenge for silverware and reach greater heights and to that end, it is in the best interests of everyone that Spurs let him depart for free next summer or cash in on him in January to fund a move for a replacement.
Talking about a genuine replacement for a player of his calibre, Spurs have got the option to iron out a permanent deal for Lo Celso, who is widely regarded as one of the best all-round midfielders in the modern game.
However, they have the choice to look at other options as well, and here are 3 ideal replacements for the Dane:
1. Paulo Dybala
The Argentinian stalwart has been forced to take a back seat at Juventus following the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo last summer and Spurs should look to go back in the market for the 25-year-old after failing to get a deal over the line in the summer. (h/t Express)
The left-footed magician has the playmaking abilities and the natural skill set to fill in the void left by Eriksen, while his versatility to operate in multiple roles in the attacking third could be a massive boost to Pochettino’s team dynamics.
Dybala is one of the best playmaking forwards in the world and Pochettino’s union with his compatriot could transform Spurs into strong title contenders for the upcoming season.
2. Nicolo Zaniolo
Spurs were repeatedly linked with a move for the 20-year-old Italian in the summer following his impressive breakthrough season at Roma last term. (h/t Daily Mail)
The Lilywhites can certainly afford to look at the youngster as a smart long-term investment but unlike Dybala, he is not really a finished article and Pochettino would need to polish him to a considerable extent to transform him into a player capable of making an impact in the highly competitive atmosphere of the Premier League.
Zaniolo has illustrated the versatility to play everywhere across the midfield, with his good turn of pace, natural finesse and ability to pick out key passes being some of his most impressive attributes.
The Italian, though, is held in high regard at Roma due to his tremendous potential, and he certainly won’t come cheap.
3. James Maddison
Perhaps the best like-to-like playmaking replacement for Eriksen, the 22-year-old Englishman has carved out a massive reputation for himself at Leicester City as one of the hottest talents across the nation.
To Read More Spurs News, Click Here:- Latest Spurs News
The youngster not only has the work rate to shoulder the burden of being Spurs’ main man in the middle of the park but he also has the ability to change the whole complexion of the game with his eye for goals and assists. Going by his current form, Maddison would be a dream signing for Tottenham.
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