Preview: Napoli hopeful of avoiding an upset
The Swans considering their recent form should have been no match for a high flying Napoli side which occupies the third position in the Serie A. However much for their stature the Partenopei were tested to their limits when they faced Swansea in the first leg in Wales. The Jacks performed admirably and were unlucky not to have emerged victorious in the first leg.
To Napoli’s advantage, they have a manager who has quite a pedigree in European competitions. The Spaniard has thrice led his teams to European success once in the Champions League and twice in Europe’s second tier competition.
Preview: Liverpool back on the pitch after being out during a European week
Champions League football; these are the three words resounding on the minds of Liverpool’s board, management, players and supporters worldwide. The five-time European winners have been out of the continent’s most prestigious competition for too long. However, they are on track to fulfilling their dream of a Top Four finish in the Premier League this season.
Fired up for Sunday’s fixture at home to Swansea City, striker Luis Suarez explained to Liverpool Echo:
The talk of relegation is not usually taken so seriously in February but the unpredictability of the Barclays Premier League this season has been miraculous, sparking up the most contested battle to beat the drop in the league's history.
From Aston Villa who currently sit in tenth spot down to the bottom it can be safely suggested that none of the teams are free from the drop. Only eight points separate the eleven clubs involved whilst the results in the league have been more than a little erratic.
Preview: Can Tottenham edge closer to the top four?
Michael Laudrup’s side earned plenty of plaudits for the way they set out last season. However, Laudrup and his side have come under criticism for not changing the way things are done. For all the nice passes on the pitch, the results have been horrible. Swansea sits in fourteenth spot in the Premier League having lost four of their previous five Premier League matches.
Jose Canas and Garry Monk are out for Swansea. Two incredibly important players who Laudrup is desperately in need of are out as well in Michu and Pablo Hernandez. Dwight Tiendalli, Nathan Bakar and Michel Vorm could return to the squad for this one but the chances are low. Jonathan De Guzman and Roland Lamah are doubtful. Swansea’s Wayne Routledge spoke about their current plights recently as Sky Sports noted:
Preview: United looking for first win of the year
The Red Devils have uncharacteristically lost all the matches they have played so far in 2014 and are currently on their worst run of form since 2001. A defeat at the hands of Tottenham in the Premier League was followed by losses at the hands of Swansea and Sunderland resulting in Moyes’ side being eliminated from both domestic cup competitions.
As if on-field problems are not grave enough Man United manager David Moyes has been charged for his criticism of the referee in the aftermath of the Sunderland match. The Scot criticised the referee for both the goals United conceded and as a result might face serious consequences.
Preview: Man United hoping to make amends at home
The Red Devils had their six match winning streak come to a shuddering end as they suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham at home. The new year marked United’s fourth defeat at home in the league this season, rounding of a disappointing display from David Moyes’ side in front of their own fans.
Apart from defeats at the hands of West Bromwich Albion, Everton and Newcastle, Man United have also drawn their matches at home against Chelsea and Southampton which has left the Red Devils with just four victories at home, amassing just 14 points from a possible 30. Their antics have resulted in Man United having a worse home record than Hull and Stoke this season.
Preview: City hoping to start new year on a strong note
After ending 2013 on a high, the Citizens will be hoping to start from where they left off and begin the year in style. The Sky Blues are currently unbeaten in their last 11 matches in all competitions, a run which has seen them maul the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham and brush aside title contenders Liverpool as well as European heavyweights Bayern Munich.
Their next challenge will be a trip to South Wales where they face a Swansea City side which has failed to live up to the billing this season.
Preview: Mourinho looking for a win after Arsenal stalemate
A much awaited London derby saw Arsenal and Chelsea battle it out to a goal-less draw in a match where Mourinho’s side seemed content with just a single point. Similar to the match against Manchester United earlier in the season, Mourinho came out with a defensive plan which was enough for his side to secure a draw.
"It was a tactical match," Mourinho said.
"A match that Arsenal want to win but didn't want to lose and Chelsea wants to win but doesn't want to lose.
Preview: Citizens looking to extend perfect home run
The Sky Blues have been impeccable at home this season having scored 26 goals in the six games they have played at home turf this season and was it not for their disastrous away form, City would definitely be higher up in the table.
The Citizens have scored goals for fun this season and Premier League’s top scorers have notched ten goals in the last two matches something the Swansea defence should be wary of. In their last Premier League outing City ran riot scoring six goals against a Tottenham side which prior to their match against the Etihad side had only conceded six goals in 11 games.
Preview: Cardiff and Swansea set stage for first BPL Welsh derby
Cardiff’s promotion to England’s top tier football league means, that the Barclays Premier League will for the first time play host to a Welsh derby. When Cardiff played Arsenal in the FA Cup final back in 1927, it was reported that hundreds of Swansea fans travelled miles to support their fellow Welsh side. What used to be a friendly rivalry, has gradually turned into one of the fiercest rivalries in all of Britain.
With the hostility which exists between fans of both the clubs, security is expected to be very tight at the Cardiff City Stadium. Evidence of the stern rivalry between the two clubs was felt in its true essence back in 1993 when a match between the two clubs at Cardiff’s former home Ninian Park, saw fans tear apart the seats at the grandstand. As a result of the violent behaviour of a few, a major step was taken to ban away fans from the fixture.
Preview: Swans looking to build on win at Mestalla stadium
Michael Laudrup’s side stormed into the European avenue by earning an emphatic victory over Spanish side Valencia at the Mestalla stadium. Goals from Michu, Wilfred Bony and Jonathan De Guzmán stunned the Valencia fans as the Swans raced towards a comfortable victory.
Laudrup will now be looking for a similar showing from his men as he faces Jeff Saibene’s side. A win on Thursday will further enhance their chances of qualifying to the next round, in what would be a remarkable achievement for a side which has just begun its European adventures.
Preview: Arsenal aiming to build on midweek victory over West Brom
When Arsene Wenger chose his squad for Arsenal's Capital One Cup match against West Bromwich Albion, the French manager knew that his young guns were going to need a lot of composure to knock off Steve Clarke's side.
A second half goal from Eisfeld had the Gunners set to record yet another away victory, which would make it 11 in a row. But West Brom made things difficult, and equalized the match not too long after the German got on the end of Nicklas Bendtner's pass.
Fortunately for Wenger, his side was able to stay composed in a penalty shootout, which saw them through to the next round of the cup.
Preview: Underdogs Swansea City could cause Valencia upset
Valencia have lost their last three La Liga encounters, conceding nine goals in the process. Their tag of favourites in Group A does not seem justified by their current form. Coach Miroslav Djukic revealed that his men are “worried” about their poor run. So how will Los Che rise up to the challenge on the opening day of the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League? Djukic explained in the build up to the Swansea match:
“It's very important to win and put recent defeats behind us. We must stay focused, continue working and stop conceding so many goals. We're all looking in the same direction, with the same aim. We just have to keep things simple, go back to basics.”
Preview: Liverpool hoping to score and win on Swansea's turf
Liverpool fans have yet to mourn the absence of suspended striker Luis Suarez since Daniel Sturridge has been a true revelation for the club this season. The England international, who was voted by the fans as the ‘August Player of the Month’, is not the only threat for oppositions.
Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and defender Kolo Toure have also turned into key players for the Merseyside Reds. In fact, Brendan Rodgers can be proud of his team’s defence which is yet to concede in the English Premier League.
Swansea lost to Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in August but bounced back with a 2-0 win away to West Bromwich Albion on the first day of September. Fifteen days later, the challenge that awaits the Swans is huge but exciting.
Preview: Tottenham Hotspur looking ahead to life without Gareth Bale
As the Gareth Bale saga nears its conclusion, Tottenham prepare for life without their star player who had been such an integral part of the squad over the years. Last season, it was the Welshman’s efforts that saw Spurs mount a strong challenge for a place in the Champions League. Unfortunately it was not enough. However, this time around, Andre Villas-Boas’ side have armed themselves heavily during the summer transfer window to make sure that events from last season do not occur again.
Preview: Moyes the man to beat for the Swans
Robin van Persie offered Moyes an amazing start to his competitive career last weekend. The Dutch forward was the star man as the reigning EPL champions humbled FA Cup titleholders Wigan Athletic to lift the 2013 FA Community Shield. This piece of silverware has lifted spirits in the camp of Man United.
Filling the shoes of retired boss Alex Ferguson is not going to be an easy task for David Moyes whose challenge is to record instant success. A strong start to the campaign will be needed on Matchday 1.
It all happened rather quickly. Over the past 24 hours, rumours over this matter quickly spread in the news as Fergie’s health is said to be at risk. On Wednesday morning, the two-time UEFA Champions League winner finally confirmed speculations. Parts of his statement revealed the followed:
“The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about. It is the right time.
“It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so.
“The quality of this league winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level whilst the structure of the youth set-up will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one.”