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Swansea City 0 v 0 AFC Bournemouth
SkyBet Championship
Tuesday, 8th December 2020 Kick-off 19:45
Biggest game of the season awaits the Swans tonight : Graeme Jones Interview
Tuesday, 8th Dec 2020 09:00

Swansea City take to the pitch tonight in a top of the table clash with a Bournemouth again knowing that three points could well take them to the top of the Championship come full time. And it’s the same for Bournemouth. That’s how tight it is.

Swansea City play host to Championship contenders Bournemouth tonight at the Liberty Stadium, with both sides eyeing a return to the Premier League this season. That may well be but swans manager Steve Cooper continues to play these fixtures down, remains calm and focuses on the job in hand. The fans can dream but that’s not Coopers way.

Both sides have only lost one of their previous five league games, underlining the strength of their respective starts to the Championship campaign under the guidance of Steve Cooper and Jason Tindall. The Swans dispatched Luton Town 2-0 on home turf last weekend, whilst the visitors on Tuesday night saw off Barnsley with a 4-0 thumping, thus sending a warning out to their promotion rivals. However despite heading into the game in relatively good form, the Swans do have a few injury worries to contend with.

Marc Guehi and Ryan Bennett will face injury checks and late fitness tests could prove negative for Cooper, this would be a severe blow for the swans. Guehi had a blow to the head on Saturday from Luton’s Matt Pearson resulting in a sending off, and Ryan Bennett missed the game completely due to a hamstring pull at Middlesbrough last week. Both would play if fit, no doubt about that, however Steve Cooper also knows this week presents two massive games for the club. He may well be taking one game as it comes, but there is no way he won’t acknowledge that Saturdays fixture against Cardiff City is the one both sets of fans look for at the start of every season.

Kyle Naughton could start tonight

Cardiff City have come up short in recent times against the swans so they won’t be settling for anything other than a win.

For tonight’s game, if Guehi and Bennett are out you can expect to see a potential change in formation, Bidwell should start as will Roberts, in the centre the impressive Ben Cabango should also receive the nod from Cooper. That leaves a choice between Kyle Naughton and Joel Latibeaudiere, but the positives are either player can fit in to a five man defence with wing backs or a flat back four. Either way expect Jan Dhanda, Korey Smith and Captain Matt Grimes to start. Dependent on formation we think Cooper will look no further than Lowe and Ayew in a four four two and indeed in his preferred five, three, two formation. The former giving the chance for Ryan Manning or Kasey Palmer to also start.

The return of Graeme Jones
Swansea spent seven successive seasons in the Premier League and twice finished in the top ten before suffering relegation in 2017/18. Jones, who also worked with Martinez at Everton and with the Belgian national team, joined Jason Tindall’s backroom staff at Vitality Stadium in August. He told afcb.co.uk: “It was a really positive period, a happy time and a great learning curve, that’s for sure. When I look back, it was something to be really proud of. “Roberto and myself left a pattern of play there that set up the club for ten years and certainly contributed to them getting to the Premier League. Other managers like Paulo Sousa and Brendan Rodgers inherited it and it was established in the lower leagues,On the back of success, it was really powerful so it was a great period. My family loved it and I loved it. We had a chance to return home, which for us at that time was Wigan, and took it.“Looking at Swansea now, I think Steve Cooper has done a really good job. He inherited good players but has added good players as well. It’s a very different club to the one that I know. Huw Jenkins and Martin Morgan ran it as chairman and owner when I was there and now the Americans have got it. There won’t be a lot of people I know there tomorrow so we’re talking about 11 years and that’s how quickly it changes in football. They play a back three, they play lots of different shapes and are a good attacking team. Andre Ayew is a big threat so we will need to be at our best.

Jones on the Swans and Bournemouth
“There’s Premier League quality in both teams. I faced Ayew last season as Luton manager and he was a handful. He’s their talisman and is above the level. But they’ve got Connor Roberts and Matt Grimes and other good players as well so nothing changes. It’s all about your team and getting your players at their best and that’s what the challenge will be tomorrow.”

Jones knows there’s premier league quality in both sides

Asked how he had found his first few months with the Cherries, Jones replied: “I’m delighted. This is my second experience of being involved with a team which has been relegated from the Premier League after West Brom two-and-a-half years ago. This is a really healthy football club and Jason and Purchy have done a fantastic job. A week ago today, we had been beaten once all season. We lost to Preston and responded really well at Barnsley. We have responded well after both defeats. “I like the style of play and enjoy working with the boys so it’s onwards and upwards for me!”

Jones and Martinez had the reins at Swansea when the Cherries secured a remarkable 2-1 win at the Liberty Stadium in April 2008. Ahead of the clash, the Swans were seven points clear at the top and victory would have clinched promotion, while Kevin Bond’s Cherries were nine points adrift of safety having been docked ten for entering administration.

And although Andy Robinson's goal put the Swans on course for promotion, Joe Kuffour's equaliser and Joe Partington's winner, both in stoppage time, earned the Cherries what had seemed like an improbable victory. “I remember it!” laughed Jones. “Rob Newman was Kevin’s assistant and he’s a good friend of mine. “I remember looking at the scoreboard and we were winning 1-0 after 90 minutes. Then, when the referee blew the final whistle, we’d lost 2-1. You felt like you’d had your throat slashed and been left on the pavement because there was nowhere to go. We got promoted in the end though!”

Jones and Martinez in happier times

Bournemouth are set to assess attacking duo Arnaut Danjuma and Joshua King ahead of tomorrow’s exciting Championship clash at Swansea. Danjuma has missed the Dorset club’s past three games with a hamstring problem, while King has been building up his fitness – having previously had to isolate after contracting COVID-19 last month.

And assistant manager Stephen Purches insisted Cherries would make a late call on the pair ahead of the clash at Liberty Stadium tonight.

Giving an update on Dutchman Danjuma, he told the Daily Echo: “We are still assessing where he is at the moment. He’s progressing nicely, so we will leave it at that. But he’s getting closer to where we need him to be.” On Norwegian frontman King, the assistant added: “It’s a similar situation with that to be honest. We can weight that up as it goes. We have a few things we need to check out tomorrow – that will be in the thinking and we will see where we are at, with that.”

Cherries go into the clash in Wales knowing victory for either side would send them top of the division for at least a day.

“I think Swansea have started the season great,” added Purches. I think they’ve got a good style of how they want to play and have been very consistent with that as they have gone along. I’m sure they have aspirations like we have to go up and it should be an interesting game. “This league throws at you so many different styles, different ways. Just the physical side of the stuff – each game is so different. “But I’d say they have been very consistent and deserve to be where they are at. We are very much looking forward to this game and pitting ourselves up against the better ones in this league, to add to the total we have got and progress.”

Photo: Action Images

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