They were a completely different team during the second half of the 2015/16 season, but can Swansea City duplicate its strong efforts in Francesco Guidolin‘s first full year?
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The Italian will have his work cut out for him with many of the Premier League’s top sides spending big dollars on well-known commodities. Swansea don’t have the luxury of spending big, which could very well hamper their chances of succeeding, but Guidolin has been in similar positions before in Italy and still found results.
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With a good assortment of defensive options and Polish keeper Lukasz Fabianski in net, the Swans should put out a strong lineup from a tactical perspective. The biggest questions will be where the production comes from up top.
Modou Barrow didn’t do much on loan the past two seasons, but appears to be getting more of a run out this season, while Andre Ayew will have a lot expected of him as he prepares to build off of a strong second season at the Liberty Stadium.
Swans will challenge for top half placement: Andre Ayew was a strong addition last season, and the team has the pieces to put together a dangerous attack. Gylfi Sigurdsson is coming off of a fantastic summer with Iceland at EURO 2016, while steady options like Jefferson Montero and Wayne Routledge can give the Swans a boost in the midfield.
Most likely it’ll be a mid-table finish: Despite bringing back many of the same starters from a season ago, Van der Hoorn is one of the few additions that will contribute regularly for the Swans, and the team still lacks talent up front. Bafetimbi Gomis‘ loan move to France puts the side at a disadvantage, leaving major concerns up front as to where the goals will come from.
Best Possible XI
—– Fabianski —–
— Van der Hoorn — Taylor — Williams — Naughton —
— Fer — Sigurdsson —– Montero
— Routledge — Ayew —
—– Barrow —–
Eder ($4 million, Lille), Alberto Paloschi ($7 million, Atalanta), Bafetimbi Gomis (Loan, Marseille), Kenji Gorre (Loan, Northampton), Kyle Bartley (Loan, Leeds), Raheem Hanley (Free, Northampton), Liam Shephard (Loan, Yeovil), Oliver Davies (Loan, Kilmarnock), Matt Grimes (Loan, Leeds)
Last season: A 12th place finish that largely went unrecognized by many wasn’t what Swansea wanted in 2015/16, but their overall performance was admirable. Wins against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United at home were among the most notable efforts from the Swans, while the club also secured victories against Arsenal and West Ham on the road.
Star player: Andre Ayew — With 12 goals and four assists during the 2015/16 season, Ayew proved his worth to the Swans, and supporters will be holding their breath that the Ghanaian can duplicate his efforts again this season. While he isn’t always the most exciting player to watch, Ayew always puts in a solid shift and does the little things going both ways. Swansea will likely go as far as the 26-year-old takes them.
Coach’s corner: After taking over during the second half of the season for the Swans in 2016, Francesco Guidolin provided a noticeable spark to his players.
Taking results in 11 of their 16 matches, Guidolin and his side were a significantly different team over the second portion of the PL campaign, giving supporters and the club confidence going into the future.
While Guidolin has previously worked extensively in Italy’s Serie A, the former Hellas Verona midfielder is looking to do something a bit risky in the Premier League; spend as little as possible and grind out results.
PST predicts: As much as it would be nice to see Swansea make a jump into the next tier of the Premier League, the club’s offseason moves keep them as a very limited squad. While players like Ayew, Montero, and even Modou Barrow will perform well against lower half opponents, it will be hard to get consistent production out of them when it comes to facing the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United on a regular basis. A mid-table finish will likely be in this team’s future for the second straight season.Follow @MattReedFutbol