Preview: Swansea City head to Birmingham looking to continue perfect record

Swansea City will be hoping to maintain their 100% win record on Friday evening as they prepare to take on Birmingham City.

The Swans have started their Championship campaign on a positive note and they will be searching to maintain this momentum with an away win against Birmingham at St. Andrew’s Stadium. 

Despite coming under criticism about the club’s business in the transfer window, Swansea have impressed in their first games of the season. With two wins from two, Graham Potter will be eager to maintain this consistency as the Swans seek an immediate return to the top flight.

The main talking point of Friday’s match against Birmingham will be the reunion of both side’s managers to their former clubs.

Former Swans skipper and manager, Garry Monk will be particularly keen for Birmingham to impress against his former club. The Swansea City legend spent 12 years at the Liberty Stadium, playing in over 220 matches, and as manager he delivered the Swans’ highest finish in eighth place in the 2014/15 Premier League.

Swans boss Graham Potter, on the other hand, will be returning closer to home. The Solihull-born manager kickstarted his professional football career at Birmingham City, making 32 appearances for the Blues.

Potter’s side secured their first win of the season away to Sheffield United, beating the Blades 2-1. New signing, Yan Dhanda made sure his Swansea career got off to a flying start by scoring in the 85th minute with his first touch, guaranteeing Swansea’s first victory in the Championship since 2011. 

The Swans’ perfect run continued against Preston North End. Ollie McBurnie’s attempt from the penalty spot was denied by Preston keeper Declan Rudd. In the end, however, it was Jay Fulton’s first-half goal that clinched a 1-0 win at the Liberty Stadium.

However, Swansea were left weakened following their first home game of the season. Having been in Lukasz Fabianski’s shadow for the last few seasons, Swansea’s current No. 1, Kristoffer Nordfeldt was dealt a cruel blow early in their match with Preston as he suffered a groin injury.

The Swede’s misfortune has opened the door for Dutch keeper Erwin Mulder who impressed against the Lilywhites, keeping a clean sheet on his debut performance for the Welsh club. Friday’s match versus Birmingham could see him make his first start for the Swans.

Fortunately, Swansea’s hopes for their trip to St. Andrew’s have been boosted as new signing Declan John joined full team training this week. The former Ranger’s left-back will be eager to make his debut after missing the Preston game due to a back injury.

Birmingham City struggled throughout the 2017/2018 season to avoid relegation, securing their place in the Championship only on the last day. 

The Blues’ poor form seems to have continued into this season as they are yet to achieve victory. A single point from a 2-2 draw at home to Norwich was not the positive beginnings Birmingham had been hoping for.  

The false start continued in their second game at Middlesbrough. A play-off side in last season’s Championship, Middlesbrough showed their superiority, beating Garry Monk’s side 1-0. The Blues’ shaky performance was made worse as midfielder Craig Gardner was shown a straight red in the 83rd minute. Gardner will miss out on the chance to challenge Swansea on Friday.

The Blues’ midfield situation is looking progressively worrying for Garry Monk’s encounter with Swansea. In addition to Gardner’s ban, it has been revealed that Cheikh Ndoye has left on a season-long loan to Ligue 1 side Angers Sco. The Senegalese international has made 39appearances last year and his absence will be widely felt in Birmingham’s midfield.

Birmingham’s losing streak resumed on Tuesday as their Caribao Cup campaign was crushed following a 2-0 defeat to Paul Clement’s Reading, who have also failed to secure a victory in the Championship.

Despite a lack of wins to start of Birmingham’s season, Swansea defence will be put to the test with attacking threat from Che Adam’s, the Blue’s top goal-scorer last season, alongside attacking wingers Jota and Maghoma.

The Swans saw the departures of two senior centre backs on deadline day and Graham Potter will need to prioritise his side’s defence if they are to return to the Premier League. Centre back Joe Rodon, a Swansea academy protege, made his debut for the Swans against Preston but Potter will be eager to boost his defensive selection in the loan window.

A seemingly on-form Swansea side will be keen to exploit a poor performing Birmingham side as the Swans attempt to maintain their winning streak to secure a top of the table position.

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