LIFE after Brendan Rodgers could hardly have got off to a better start for Swansea City . . . but they have come down to earth with a bump in recent weeks.
The Swans were perched proudly on top of the Barclays Premier League table for just a few hours after following up their opening day mauling of Queens Park Rangers by dishing out another dose of capital punishment to newly-promoted West Ham United.
However, it's not simply the fact that results have taken a turn for the worse since that flying start, they have also lost a number of key figures, one way or another.
They saw Welsh international Joe Allen follow Rodgers to Liverpool in a £15 million deal before the start of the campaign and eventually, after much speculation, Scott Sinclair also headed to the north-west to join Manchester City.
Sinclair himself netted for Swansea when they beat the Potters 2-0 at the Liberty Stadium last season, although Stoke exacted revenge by the same score-line in February thanks to goals from Matthew Upson and Peter Crouch.
As well as those outgoing transfers, the Swans have also been hit by injury problems, most notably the loss of full-back Neil Taylor to a broken ankle.
New manager Michael Laudrup has, however, stamped his mark on the squad, using his vast experience of the European game to bring in the likes of Spanish trio Michu, Pablo Hernandez and Chico Flores, as well as South Korean Ki Sung-Yeung.
Swansea City Fact-File
Full name: Swansea City Football Club
Stadium: Liberty Stadium
Owner: Huw Jenkins
Chairman: Huw Jenkins
Manager: Michael Laudrup
2011/12: Premier League (11th), League Cup (Second Round), FA Cup (Fourth Round).
Record victory: 12-0 v Sliema Wanderers, European Cup Winners' Cup First Round, 15/09/1982
Record defeat: 0-8 v Liverpool, FA Cup Third Round Replay, 09/01/1990
Record transfer fee paid: £5.5m for Pablo Hernández to Valencia, 31/08/2012
Record transfer fee received: £15m for Joe Allen from Liverpool, 10/08/2012
Introducing the Gaffer
SWANSEA CITY may have raised a few eyebrows when they appointed Michael Laudrup as their new manager during the 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.
At club level, he achieved the feat of winning La Liga five years in succession; the first four of them with Barcelona and the fifth with Real Madrid before the closing of his time as a player saw him help Dutch giants Ajax to lift the Eredivisie title.
TONY PULIS has no injury problems ahead of the game, with the only absentee set to be Andy Wilkinson as he serves the second game of his suspension for violent conduct.
The full-back was given a retrospective ban after an off-the-back incident with Mario Balotelli in the 1-1 draw against Manchester City.
Swansea have Nathan Dyer available after he completed his one-match ban against Crawley Town midweek, while it's touch and go whether Pablo Hernández will feature after picking up a knee injury against Everton last weekend.
Arsenal v Chelsea (12.45pm)
Everton v Southampton
Fulham v Manchester City
Norwich City v Liverpool
Reading v Newcastle United
STOKE CITY v SWANSEA CITY
Sunderland v Wigan Athletic
Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur (5.45pm)
Aston Villa v West Bromwich Albion (Sunday, 4pm)
Queens Park Rangers v West Ham United (Monday, 8pm)
All games kick-off at 3.00pm on Saturday unless otherwise stated.
League: 19 Stoke City wins; 15 draws; 14 Swansea City wins
FA Cup: 0 Stoke City wins; 1 draw; 5 Swansea City wins
League Cup: 2 Stoke City wins; 2 draws; 0 Swansea City wins
TOTAL: 21 Stoke City wins; 18 draws; 19 Swansea City wins
Last Five Encounters
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 (Second Division) - 07/03/2001
Swansea City 2-1 Stoke City (Second Division) - 14/10/2000
Swansea City 1-0 Stoke City (FA Cup) - 05/12/1998
Stoke City win 10/11, Swansea City win 16/5, draw 12/5
Referee - Jonathan Moss
JONATHAN MOSS takes charge of his third Premier League game at the Britannia Stadium this weekend.
He officiated Southampton's 4-1 win over Aston Villa at St Mary's Stadium last Saturday, and also refereed West Bromwich Albion's 2-0 triumph over Everton at the start of the month.
Before that, he had kicked his season off in the Championship by taking charge of Burnley's 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers and then Derby's 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Moss has refereed only one Stoke City game before, and that came back in February 2007 when he oversaw the Potters' 1-0 defeat to Birmingham City in the Championship.
His most recent Swansea City match came at the Liberty Stadium in April of last season - a thrilling encounter that finished 4-4.