In opposition this season: Swansea City

The Grecians’ second home friendly of the summer will be a repeat of a meeting 12 months ago, as Premier League Swansea City grace St James Park in July.  Oliver Roderick analyses the Swans as we continue to comb through the sides that will go face-to-face with the Grecians this term.

Last season
With a successful 2012/13 having delivered a Capital One Cup win and qualification into Europe, last term was a more modest affair for the Swans. 

After a slow start – they were beaten 4-1 at the Liberty Stadium on the opening day by Manchester United in David Moyes’ Premier League debut in the Red Devils’ dugout – the Swans’ season was kick-started by an eye-catching 3-0 win over Valencia at the Mestalla.  The Jacks were beaten in the first-ever Barclays Premier League Welsh derby as Steven Caulker headed Cardiff City to victory in November, but made amends by winning the return fixture 3-0.

The Swans were eventually dumped out of the Europa League by Napoli’s 3-1 two-legged victory in the Round of 32, and three wins from the last four propelled them to a comfortable-looking twelfth.

The summer so far
Rarely does a summer go by when Swansea’s key players aren’t the subject of heavy interest from elsewhere, but as of yet the club has managed to hold on to the likes of Ashley Williams, Wilfried Bony and Michel Vorm. 

The Dutch international goalkeeper has been busy representing his country in Brazil, but in the meantime the Swans have signed Arsenal’s Łukasz Fabiański on a free transfer, the Polish stopper having played his last game for the Gunners in May’s FA Cup final win over Hull City.  Former Lyon striker Bafetimbi Gomis also made his way to SA1 this summer, having scored 56 goals in 120 appearances for the Ligue 1 club.

Vorm hasn’t been the only Swansea player away in Brazil this summer: Ki Sung-Yueng, Jonathan de Guzman and Wilfried Bony have all been in action for their countries at the World Cup, with Bony grabbing the Ivory Coast’s first goal in their opening win over Japan and the equaliser in game three against Greece, the match in which Georgios Samaras’ late penalty knocked the African side out.

The manager

Swansea City manager Garry Monk was involved as a player this time last year as the Swans were 2-0 winners over the Grecians.  This time he will be sitting in the away dugout, overseeing the players who were his teammates less than a year ago.

Monk was touted as a potential future manager even before the Swans parted ways with Michael Laudrup midway through the season.  He represented and captained the Swans as a player across all four divisions, and on the Dane’s departure he was handed the reins on a temporary basis at first before becoming a permanent appointment towards the season’s end. 

His first match will have reinforced the fans’ opinions of him straight away, as the Swans were 3-0 winners over fiercest rivals Cardiff, and the 12-placed finish will have been satisfactory to those higher-up after a difficult season.

Ones to watch

Holding onto Ivory Coast striker Wilfried Bony has been a priority for the Swans this summer, and there’s no wonder why: with Michu unable to replicate the form he showed in his own debut season, the man signed from Dutch side Vitesse last summer stepped up to the plate to score 16 Premier League goals which proved crucial in retaining the Swans top-flight status. 

Jonjo Shelvey is another to watch.  Shelvey settled in quickly at the Liberty Stadium club scored six goals from midfield, including a goal of the season contender against Aston Villa towards the campaign’s end.  Once tipped as an England mainstay, Shelvey’s international career has been on the back-burner of late, but a continued run of this season’s form could propel the former Liverpool man back into Roy Hodgson’s plans.

Head to head
The last time the Grecians and the Swans were in the same division, Exeter won both games at St James Park and the Vetch in Division Three in 2002/03, but the final day of that season saw very different emotions for each side: Swansea beat Hull City 4-2 in a result that is still talked about today in South Wales, but it means that Exeter’s 1-0 win over Southend wasn’t enough to retain their Football League status.

The Swans have the marginally better historical record in this fixture, which dates back to 1921. The Grecians’ best outing in the fixture was the 6-0 Division Four win in October 1969, while the Swans won by the same scoreline in 1948.

Exeter City wins: 27
Swansea City wins: 34
Draws: 15

Club links

Current Swindon Town player Ryan Harley scored 21 goals in 108 appearances for Exeter City before heading for then-Championship Swansea City in 2011.  Harley never made a competitive appearance for the Welsh side, returning to Exeter on loan after less than a year. 

Recently-departed goalkeeper Artur Krysiak was also at one time a Swansea City player, as were the likes of Kevin Amankwaah and Daniel Nardiello.  Striker Guillem Bauza, signed by Swansea when Roberto Martinez was boss, got a brace at Gillingham in 2008 as the Swans secured promotion to the Championship.

Key clash
Exeter City 0-2 Swansea City, St James Park, Sat 21st July 2013

Goals by Nathan Dyer and Rory Donnelly handed Michael Laudrup’s Swansea a win and maintained their one hundred per cent record for pre-season with a sixth win as they overcame Exeter City by a 2-0 scoreline.

The Grecians gave as good as they got in the first half, with John O’Flynn, Alan Gow and Liam Sercombe getting efforts in.  But it was the Premier League side – who were without new club record signing Wilfried Bony – that showed their class by taking the lead, as Nathan Dyer converted when played through on goal by another new signing, Jose Cañas.

Sky Bet are offering odds of 11/4 on Swansea City finishing in the top ten of the Premier League this season.  Relegation is currently at 5/1, while a bet on the Swans to win the Premier League comes in at a cool 4000/1.