IF THE last three meetings between Stoke City and Swansea City are anything to go by, then the Swans will be favourites heading into this one… with the home team having won 2-0 in each of those games.
The Potters will be determined to take something from their trip to South Wales, however, and build on the momentum gained from the victory over Crystal Palace in the FA Cup replay midweek.
Swansea will have one eye on the second leg of their League Cup semi-final against Chelsea next week, but will be remain keen to carry on their league form that sees them occupy the top half of the Premier League.
This will be the 50th league meeting between the two clubs, with Stoke edging the head-to-head having won 20 times to Swansea’s 14, with the teams having played out 15 draws.
SWANSEA CITY FACT-FILE
Full name: Swansea City Association Football Club
Stadium: The Liberty Stadium
Chairman: Huw Jenkins
Manager: Michael Laudrup
2011/12: Premier League (11th), FA Cup (Fourth Round), League Cup (Second Round).
Record transfer fee paid: £5.5m for Pablo Hernández to Valencia, August 2012.
Record transfer fee received: £15m for Joe Allen from Liverpool, August 2012.
IN PROFILE - MICHAEL LAUDRUP
Swansea City may have raised a few eyebrows when they appointed Michael Laudrup as their new manager last summer . . . but in so many respects it was the perfect fit in terms of finding a suitable replacement for Brendan Rodgers.
The former Danish international star is a manager very much in the mould of Rodgers and indeed Swansea’s previous boss Roberto Martinez in the way that he encourages his sides to perform in a stylish way which was such a feature of his playing career.
Laudrup’s successful spells in charge of Brondby and Spanish club Getafe had led to him being linked with vacant positions at the likes of Valencia, Benfica, Chelsea, Blackburn Rovers and Panathinaikos before he took up the appointment in South Wales.
The 48-year-old from Frederiksberg has gained a considerable amount of experience in coaching and managerial roles since his retirement from playing twelve years ago, serving as the assistant manager of the Danish national side for two years.
While in charge of Brondby, a club where he had started out as a player, he guided them to the Danish Superliga Championship in 2005 before he took over as coach of Getafe where he not only achieved comparative success for Madrid’s club in the Copa del Rey and UEFA Cup, he also won many plaudits for their attacking style of football.
Laudrup then experienced mixed fortunes in short spells with Spartak Moscow and Real Mallorca, where he resigned after the sacking of his assistant manager Erik Larsen, having saved a struggling team from relegation in his first campaign there.
During a glittering career as a skilful attacking midfielder, he scored 37 goals in 104 appearances for his country during which he captained them on a number of occasions and he was officially named the best Denmark player of all time in 2006.
Tony Pulis was keeping his cards close to his chest regarding his team selection for this weekend’s trip to Swansea City . . . however, he has confirmed that defender Andy Wilkinson is a major doubt for the clash at the Liberty Stadium.
The City said that the 28-year-old defender will undergo a late fitness test in South Wales on Friday, after being substituted during the first half of Tuesday’s FA Cup Third Round replay victory against Crystal Palace with a troublesome back injury.
His potential absence could open the door for youngster Ryan Shotton to return to the starting eleven, although Pulis stopped short of ruling out Wilkinson entirely.
Pulis must also decide whether to recall the likes of Glenn Whelan and Charlie Adam to the starting line-up having opted to rest them on Tuesday night, whilst he also has the option of thrusting Peter Crouch back into the firing line for his first Premier League start since November.
Crouch last started a league game for the Potters against Newcastle United six weeks ago, however, he has been used sparingly since then, after breaking several teeth in a nasty collision with Fabricio Coloccini.
Meanwhile, Bosnian international ‘keeper Asmir Begovic will return to the side at the expense of Thomas Sorensen, who resumed his cup duties against the Eagles.
Liverpool v Norwich City
Manchester City v Fulham
Newcastle United v Reading
SWANSEA CITY v STOKE CITY
West Ham United v Queens Park Rangers
Wigan Athletic v Sunderland
West Bromwich Albion v Aston Villa (17:30)
Chelsea v Arsenal (Sunday, 13:30)
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United (Sunday, 16:00)
Southampton v Everton (Monday, 20:00)
All games kick-off at 15:00 on Saturday unless otherwise stated.
HEAD TO HEAD
League: 20 Stoke City wins; 14 Swansea City wins; 15 draws
FA Cup: 0 Stoke City wins; 5 Swansea City wins; 1 draw
League Cup: 2 Stoke City wins; 0 Swansea City wins; 2 draws
TOTAL: 22 Stoke City wins; 19 Swansea City wins; 18 draws
LAST FIVE ENCOUNTERS
Stoke City 2-0 Swansea City (Premier League) – 29/10/2012
Stoke City 2-0 Swansea City (Premier League) – 26/02/2012
Swansea City 2-0 Stoke City (Premier League) – 02/10/2011
Stoke City 1-2 Swansea City (Division Two) – 07/03/2001
Swansea City 2-1 Stoke City (Division Two) – 14/10/2000
Stoke City win 13/5; Swansea City 6/5; draw 12/5
REFEREE - MIKE DEAN
Mike Dean courted controversy in his most recent outing… when he sent off a player on each side during Manchester City’s 2-0 win at Arsenal last weekend.
The red card given to Vincent Kompany has since been overturned, so Dean will be hoping for a quiet afternoon at the Liberty Stadium.
This will be his second trip there of the season after refereeing the Swans’ 2-2 Premier League draw with Reading back in October.
It will be his first Stoke City game of the year, however, with his last coming in the 1-1 draw at Aston Villa last season.
He has dished out 83 yellow cards and four reds so far in 2012/13.