Swansea City – Season Preview
Posted by Joe Bishop | Published on August 8, 2016
The 2016-17 Premier League season is closing in on its opening weekend, and football fans around the globe are anticipating what is looking to be a very exciting season. One fan base who are looking forward to a promising season is fans of Swansea City. The introduction of Francesco Guidolin half way through last season was an appointment which made many fans apprehensive on the clubs visions for the future, however, the Italian silenced his doubters as he steered the Swans to Premier League safety, and he has now enjoyed a pre season consisting of five wins and one loss in six games. One thing is for certain about this season, that the Swans will aim to wipe last season’s early mishaps away, and should aim to start this season strong, with games against Burnley and Hull, away and home respectively.
2016-17 Aims and Expectations
Swansea City have established themselves as a team who comfortably survive and flourish in the league, consistently finishing mid table, and despite last season’s shaky start they managed to emulate the finishing position of previous seasons and ended the season in 12th place, equal on points but with a higher goal difference than Everton, who finished 11th. The aims for Guidolin this season should be simple, avoid relegation and try to obtain as high of a finish as possible, however, I imagine the owners would be more than content with a mid table finish. Although they are expected to lose their star man Andre Ayew, Swansea have brought in apt replacements for the Ghanaian, in the form of World Cup winner Fernando Llorente, and his Spanish compatriot Borja Baston, who is expected to join the club in the coming days, with Guidolin describing the signing as ‘imminent’ in his post match press conference following the Swans’ 1-0 win over Stade Rennais. I believe a mid table finish, along with a good cup run, which Swansea have lacked in recent years since their Capital One Cup win in the 2012-13 season, would be a success in the eyes of the board and the fans of the Welsh club.
As per usual, Swansea left it late to purchase key players in this summer transfer window, however, this could be put down to the club waiting to bring in the investment from American’s Jason Levein and Steve Kaplan before purchasing overly expensive players. However, now that the whole ownership situation has been resolved, the Swans have shown great signals of intent, and have brought in World Cup winning Spaniard Fernando Llorente, and are soon to announce the signing of fellow Spaniard Borja Baston, as I previously mentioned, with the club expected to break their record fee paid for a player, with the price tag rumoured to be around the £15m mark. The fact that Swansea could attract two marquee players like this shows that the club are heading in the right direction in terms of gaining exposure in foreign countries. Swansea have also brought in Leroy Fer, after an impressive loan stint last season, as well as fellow Dutchman Michael Van Der Hoorn, a central defender from Ajax.
The Polish man became an instant fan favourite after arriving from Arsenal in May 2014 on a free contract, and has enjoyed a very successful Swansea career so far, impressing in many famous victories, including earning the man of the match award in Swansea’s 1-0 over Arsenal at the Emirates in May 2015, making many incredible saves in that match. Fabianski made the second most saves last season, with 115, falling just behind Watford’s Gomes, who saved 121 shots. He will certainly be a key figure for Swansea this season.
Williams has attracted the attention of Everton, and although at one point he was rumoured to be having a medical, Everton’s £10m bid was rejected by Swansea, and Everton are yet to put in an improved bid. Williams has been a rock in Swansea’s defence ever since arriving from Stockport County in 2008 for a club record fee of £400,000. He has experienced great success as Captain of the Welsh club and is arriving back in Wales on the back of a Euro 2016 campaign where he captained Wales to a semi final in their first major tournament appearance since 1958. Williams knows how much he is loved at Swansea and as long as he remains a Swansea player, Williams will be a key figure in the heart of the Swans’ defence this season.
Sigurdsson has caught the eye of almost every Premier League club in his time at Swansea City, however, he recently signed a four year contract extension with the Swans, keeping him at the club until 2020. This shows that he is content with being at the club, and is looking forward to many more seasons orchestrating the midfield at Swansea. He was a key player last season at Swansea, especially when the club endured tough times. His goals and assists managed to steer the club to safety and he proved that he is more than a dead ball specialist, which some fans of rival teams have accused him of being in the past. Sigurdsson will be a key player in both the goal scoring and goal providing departments at Swansea this season, and I look forward to seeing him link up with Borja and Llorente in the coming months.
The arrival of Baston has no doubt excited many Swansea fans, and fans of La Liga, as they look forward to seeing the striker in action for a Premier League team. Some of you may wonder why I did not include Llorente as Swansea’s key striker this season, as I do believe he will be instrumental in the goal scoring department this year, however, I believe Baston will be the key player, for many reasons. Firstly, he demonstrated his many abilities, such as poaching, being an aerial threat, and creating opportunites for himself in a successful season at Eibar last year, scoring 18 goals for the mid table minnows. However, with the many striking options Atletico have, the Champions League finalists obviously aren’t including Baston in their plans this season, and are prepared to ship him to Swansea for the right price, which is currently rumoured to be around £15m. If the price tag is correct, Baston will be a record signing for the Swans, surpassing the £12m paid for Wilfried Bony in 2013, and this is the second reason why I believe Borja will be a key player. He will be expected to live up to his price tag and will hopefully relish the opportunity of being a first team player for a Premier League club, and will aim to score many goals for Swansea this season.
17th- As much as it pains me to predict the team that I have supported since I was 8 as finishing 17th, it is the position which was universally decided by the guys at FTS as to where Swansea would finish this season. However, in their defence, the predictions for how the league would look at the end of the season were made when Ashley Williams and Andre Ayew were ‘definitely leaving’ and we had not yet been rumoured with, never mind signed, Fernando Llorente or Borja Baston. So although Swansea were predicted to finish 17th, with the introduction of Llorente, and imminent introduction of Baston, and the fact that Williams looks to be staying and Sigurdsson has confirmed his future with the club, I believe Swansea will more likely be challenging for the top 10, and I, personally, can see Swansea City finishing in 11th this season.