The FourFourTwo Preview: Swansea vs Hull
Swansea 4-2 Hull, 10 years on.
This Monday Night Football offering may not tickle your taste buds on first viewing, but it will tug on the heartstrings for those of a Swansea persuasion.
- Swansea 3-0 Newcastle (Prem)
- Man City 3-0 Swansea (Prem)
- Swansea 0-1 Valencia (EL)
- Fulham 1-2 Swansea (Prem)
- Swansea 3-3 Stoke (Prem)
- Arsenal 2-0 Hull (Prem)
- Hull 3-1 Liverpool (Prem)
- Hull 0-1 Palace (Prem)
- So'ton 4-1 Hull (Prem)
- Hull 1-0 S'land (Prem)
City have only faced Hull five times since that landmark day in May 2003 when Swansea-born striker James Thomas’ two penalties and cheeky chip staved off relegation from the Football League (and probable extinction).
Leon Britton was part of that famous Vetch Field victory and should at least be among the substitutes for Monday’s meeting, which will rightly celebrate the Swans’ rapid resurgence and remind ‘smaller’ clubs up and down the land of just what ‘can’ be achieved with the right people at the helm.
Reminiscing aside, Michael Laudrup’s men will want to follow up Wednesday’s win over Newcastle with another home success.
Six points from a possible nine (triumphing at Fulham before their obligatory trouncing at Manchester City) has eased whatever pressure there was on the Dane, with the midweek triumph over the Toon only Swansea’s second at the Liberty in the league in 2013/14.
The fixture computer could have been kinder to the Tigers, who barely had time to toast their first ever win over Liverpool before finalising their travel plans to Arsenal in midweek and South Wales on Monday.
Boss Steve Bruce was happy to take the comfortable 2-0 defeat at Emirates Stadium on the chin, praising his side for not being embarrassed by the table-toppers.
"I'm glad we still knuckled down, because we've avoided an embarrassing scoreline. Arsenal are a great team, and we showed resilience… late on we rolled our sleeves up."
Bruce will want more from his charges at a venue that has been far from a fortress this campaign, and expect a performance akin to their milestone success over Liverpool last weekend.
Despite enjoying just 38.5% of possession, the Tigers pressed Liverpool higher up the pitch, making almost as many attacking-third passes as their opponents (82 to 95) and put in a sterling defensive effort with 25 tackles (to Liverpool’s 14) and 25 interceptions (to Liverpool’s 10).
Since that memorable day in May 2003, Hull are unbeaten in all four league clashes with Swansea, winning three of them. However, they have just one Premier League away win to show from their last 31 attempts.
Swansea’s midweek victory over Newcastle was tempered by Alvaro Vasquez – their only remaining fit striker – limping off early due to a groin injury. However, Laudrup does not expect the Getafe loanee to be sidelined for too long, saying: “I don't think it's a strain, but these are the things that happen. Alvaro has not played much recently but there was really no alternative. It's not a bad injury, let's see. I can't tell you if we're talking four days or 10 days but I don't think we're talking weeks."
Vasquez joins Angel Rangel, Garry Monk and fellow forwards Michu and Wilfried Bony on a congested treatment table. Michu may recover in time, otherwise Jonjo Shelvey should be given another opportunity to show off the attacking prowess that toppled the Toon.
Hull duo Paul McShane and Stephen Quinn are hamstrung, although the former could face a fitness test. Sone Aluko is not expected back until the end of January from an Achilles injury picked up in November.
Player to watch: Jonjo Shelvey (Swansea)
Laudrup heaped praise upon the former Liverpool man after his virtuoso display against Newcastle. Shelvey was pushed further forward after Vasquez was forced off with a groin injury and responded by scoring one goal and playing a key part in another.
"I think that position suits him very well," said Laudrup. "He's good in possession, he's good making runs from midfield. I think he can play the more dynamic midfielder alongside a holding midfielder.”
The former Charlton trainee put in a solid defensive shift as well as firing in 5 shots at the opposite end, making 7 ball recoveries, 4 successful tackles and 2 interceptions.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Swansea 1-1 Hull (C'ship, Apr 11)
- Hull 2-0 Swansea (C'ship, Aug 10)
- Swansea 2-1 Hull (FAC, Aug 08)
- Swansea 2-3 Hull (Div 3, Apr 04)
- Hull 1-0 Swansea (Div 3, Sep 03)
Laudrup was appointed the Swans’ boss three days before Bruce plonked himself down in the Hull hotseat in June 2012, but this will be the first time the pair have locked horns.
Facts and figures
- Swansea average 59.2% possession this season - higher than any other club - while only three teams have a lower figure than Hull (43.3%).
More facts at FFT’s Swansea vs Hull Stats Zone page
Tips and trends
TIPS & TRENDS
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- There have been at least 3 goals in 8 of Swansea's last 11 home games.
- Hull have picked up just 1 Premier League away win in their last 31 attempts dating back to their previous spell in the top flight.
- They have lost 6 of 7 on the road this time round, 4 of which were by 2 or more goals.
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The Shelvey-inspired Swans celebrate their poignant fixture with three precious points. 2-0.