15:00 GMT, Saturday 10th February, Liberty Stadium (Swansea, Wales)
The Swansea revival continues at full pace following the club’s biggest-ever FA Cup win in the mid-week Cup replay. Carlos Carvalhal’s new-manager bounce has proved to hold hidden depths of energy, turning relegation favourites into a side that are now unbeaten in eight games including wins over both Liverpool and Arsenal. However, this can only be the start of things to come if they’re to remain safe, being that they’re still level on points with second-bottom Huddersfield.
Sean Dyche’s side were also widely tipped to be involved in the relegation battle this season but for a flying start to the campaign. After beating the reigning champions on the opening weekend, Burnley maintained impressive standards which sees them still placed seventh and almost at the magical 40 points mark. Back-to-back draws have helped avert their recent slide but they still go into this weekend without a win in ten matches and have only won one away game against teams in the bottom half of the table so far this season.
Last time out
Swansea City 8-1 Notts County (FA Cup)
Swansea destroyed the Magpies at the second attempt as six different scorers lit up the score-board. The goals rained-in at regular intervals across the 90 minutes as the Swan’s dominance throughout was constantly rewarded in ruthless fashion.
Luciano Narsingh sparkled from the first whistle and provided three assists from a new role in the team while Daniel James also caught the eye when he came off the bench to mark his debut with a goal.
It was two-goal Tammy Abraham who perhaps gained the most from this match. With Wilfried Bony set to miss the rest of this season through injury, the Chelsea-loanee was given another opportunity to stake his place in the team. Having faded badly in terms of form over the last couple of months, Abraham looked sharp and was rewarded with two goals in the first half.
All of this helped to make a memorable occasion for the home team but what could prove even sweeter for the new Swansea manager, is this win now sets up a fifth-round meeting with his former club who sacked him on Christmas eve.
Burnley 1-1 Manchester City (Premier League)
Burnley battled hard to come away with a point against a City side who were unable to break down the home team. The main headlines focused on a miss by Raheem Sterling which seemed easier to score than to skew wide, however, this does not do Burnley’s defence justice.
For long periods of the game, the Burnley back-line stood up strong in the face of near-constant pressure from the visitors. The Clarets discipline made it hard work for City’s attackers who failed to find the space or time needed in the final third of the pitch.
Having switched away from their usual 4-5-1 formation to field two forwards, Burnley’s midfield were instrumental in taking a point from this match. Both Jack Cork and Jeff Hendrick were colossal figures in the centre of the pitch against City’s three-man midfield, both in terms of pressing and retaining possession through clever, accurate passing.
The equalising goal came late in the game through a fine finish from Johann Berg Gudmundsson and was just reward for the Clarets persistence and hard work throughout the match.
Swansea City lineup
Leroy Fer (Achilles) and Wilfried Bony (ankle) add to Renato Sanches’ hamstring injury while Leon Britton (groin), Angel Rangel (calf) and Andre Ayew (hamstring) are all rated doubtful for this weekend too. This should see Jordan Ayew resume in attack and a similar starting eleven to their previous Premier League game against Leicester, however, there will be plenty of confident players ready to step up into the first team for Carvalhal.
Tom Heaton is closing in on a return following his recovery from a shoulder injury but James Tarkowski (groin) and Chris Wood (knee) are again ruled out while Steven Defour (knee) and Robbie Brady (knee) are both out for the remainder of the season. There’s a further doubt over Phil Bardsley (knock) which should see Matthew Lowton drafted back into the starting lineup but Stephen Ward is expected to be available again if selected, although Dyche could choose to field the same team which ended the City game in a 4-4-2 formation.
Nathan Dyer (Swansea City) vs Aaron Lennon (Burnley)
Nathan Dyer’s emergence as a crucial figure in Swansea’s revival has been a slow but sure development. While not providing the eye-catching statistics of goals or assists, his link-up play between attack and defence has injected much more fluidity into the Swans game. With two goals claimed against Notts County in midweek, he may now show more adventure in front of goal but his influence on the team could prove equally as important.
Making his first start for the Clarets last weekend, Lennon put his well-documented personal problems behind him to deliver a man-of-the-match performance. This followed an impressive display from the bench against Newcastle the previous weekend, suggesting that the former-Tottenham winger has much more to offer in the coming weeks. With much of Burnley’s early-season success running through Robbie Brady, Lennon’s pace and direct style looks to be the perfect replacement to provide the balance lost with the Irish winger’s injury.
Jacks of all trades
Swansea’s new-found belief has grown along with a winning aura which now other teams can sense. Not only is this evident in the results they’re achieving, it’s also clear from the confidence with which they play their football now.
Central to their comfort on the ball is the fact that several of their players offer much more than just a single function for their team. Players like Sam Clucas, Tom Carroll and new signing Andy King are all capable of playing a variety of roles in either attacking or defensive positions.
This has provided much greater flexibility on the field and a greater resistance to injuries with more solutions for the manager at hand to fix voids in his squad.
The knee injury to Matthew Lowton has seen the right-back hardly feature for the Clarets since the end of November, a time in which the Clarets have suffered a distinct drop in form. His introduction at half-time against City not only provided increased defensive stability in the side, it was his testing cross which supplied the ammunition for his side’s equaliser.
While Phil Bardsley offered a suitable replacement at first, his form has slowly deserted him in recent weeks and he’s been culpable for several mistakes which have directly led to goals for the opposition. With Lowton restored to full health and back in the side, Burnley to could look to recover from their recent woes.
Swansea City 1-1 Burnley
Swansea’s recent surge in form shows no sign of slowing despite growing injury concerns, however, they will need to find a way to maintain the high levels they’ve already set. Burnley are a team who look to be returning to their early-season form and will prove a tricky opponent, especially given their good away form this season. While Swansea will be buoyed and motivated by their recent successes, Burnley have a habit of grinding out results which could see them finish the weekend with a third successive draw and give Swansea a useful point to keep their good run undamaged.