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SWANS v STOKE CITY: The big talking points

PUBLISHED

12:00 21st April 2017

. . . as Clement's men target victory


Swansea City host Stoke City this weekend in a game Paul Clement is billing as must-win if his team are to avoid relegation to the Championship.
While the Swans are desperate for points as they look to climb out of the bottom three, mid-table Stoke will be keen to build on their victory over Hull City last weekend.
Here are all the big talking points heading into what looks like a key fixture.

Gylfi Sigurdsson

Clement’s crunch
Clement is certainly not playing down the significance of Saturday’s encounter. 
Practically every game the Swans have played since Clement’s appointment has felt important, but never before has he described one as must-win – until now.
Immediately after last weekend’s defeat at Watford, Clement declared that Stoke simply have to be beaten. 
The hope is that after a difficult run, his players will respond by delivering a big performance.

Joe Allen, Leroy Fer and Wilfried Bony

Reunion cancelled?
Two players who once served the Swans with distinction played a big part in ensuring their old club were beaten, 3-1, when they went to Stoke back in October.
Joe Allen claimed two assists that night and Wilfried Bony scored two goals, yet it could be that neither player features in the return fixture.
Welsh international Allen missed Stoke’s win over Hull last weekend with a hamstring injury and is in a race to be fit for the trip back to his homeland.
Bony, meantime, has not played a single minute for Stoke since December 27 having fallen out of favour. 
The on-loan Manchester City striker has not even been on the bench in more than two months, so it would be a surprise if he features against the club who brought him to the Premier League.

Paul Clement

Happy hunting ground
The Swans may be licking their wounds after a difficult run of results, but a glance at their home form in 2017 offers grounds for optimism.
Since Clement took charge, the Swans have played six times on their own patch compared to eight times on the road.
There have been two Liberty defeats, against heavyweight clubs in Arsenal and Tottenham, a goalless draw and three victories. A total of 10 points from six home games is very healthy.
If the Swans can continue to impress on their own patch from here on in, they will give themselves a survival chance.  

Mark Hughes

No mercy from Sparky’s side
Stoke’s record against the big clubs this season has been disappointing, with only two league victories so far against teams in the top half – and both of those were over 10th-placed Watford.
But when it comes to the sides at the other end of the table, Stoke have been ruthless.
They have won six of their seven games against the current bottom four, drawing the other at Middlesbrough back on the opening day.
The Swans must buck that particular trend if they are to get what they want this weekend.

Jefferson Montero

Potter cracks
The Swans may feel they are due a result against Stoke, for they have not had too much joy against the Potters in recent times. 
The North Staffordshire club were one of the first the Swans beat in the top tier following promotion back in 2011, and there were further successes under Michael Laudrup and Garry Monk.
Yet only one of these two sides’ last seven meetings has ended in a Swans win – that Monk-inspired success back in May 2015, when Ki Sung-Yueng and Jefferson Montero were on target.
Stoke won comfortably earlier this season, while Bojan’s early penalty gave them victory when they last came to Wales. 
 
Borja

Shapeshifter?
With his side chasing a goal, Clement reshuffled his pack in the second half at Watford last weekend as Borja joined Fernando Llorente and Gylfi Sigurdsson switched to a central role behind the strikers.
Now the Swans boss must decide on what is the best set-up for a game in which he feels only victory will do.
Could the Swans start with two up front, or will there be a more familiar look to the home side’s formation?
The Swans have lacked attacking threat of late, but they cannot go gung-ho in search of a breakthrough.
Stoke have been short of goals on their travels – they last scored an away goal at Sunderland in January – but with the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Mark Arnautovic around, the hosts must get their defending right.


Tickets
For Saturday's game, we have extra tickets on sale after Stoke returned some of their allocation.
To see the Swans in Premier League action against the Potters, click
HERE

#JacksZone
Don't forget to make the most of your matchday experience by kicking off the day with a visit to our popular #JacksZone.
The fun-filled fan zone has interactive games including speed cage, football pool and football tables, along with live music courtesy of The C90s, competitions and giveaways, entertainment on the big screen and appearances from Lee Trundle as well as Cyril and Cybil, plus plenty of food and drink.
The fun continues after the final whistle at the Liberty, with the FA Cup tie between Chelsea and Tottenham being shown live on the big screen.
The #JacksZone opens at 12.30pm but both home and away fans are encouraged to arrive early as spaces are limited. Please note, the fan zone will be closed 15 minutes before kick off.
There’s still time to register to take part in the Players’ Lounge FIFA tournament for a chance to play on the big screen in the Jacks Zone – register HERE



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