Swansea v Stoke preview: Swans seek win to boost survival hopes
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 22/04/17 1:52pm
Swansea City host Stoke City at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday afternoon in desperate need of a win to boost their Premier League survival hopes.
Paul Clement's struggling side are currently languishing in the relegation zone, two points from safety but now with just five games left to play this season, starting with the Potters' visit to the Principality this weekend.
Clement will make a late decision on the fitness of top scorer Fernando Llorente, who has been troubled by ankle and leg injuries in recent weeks.
However, the Swans manager has admitted that the Spain striker needs to be in better physical condition for the campaign's crucial final few weeks.
"Fernando has come off the back of some good performances where he's really made the difference," Clement said.
"But then he's picked up his injury which led to another injury and a frustrating time.
"He wasn't 100 per cent at Watford. He said after the game he didn't feel at his best, and that's obviously had an impact on the way he played.
"He does need to be fitter, but then the question is a bit like the dilemma we had at West Ham.
Meanwhile, Stoke boss Mark Hughes remains optimistic frontman Saido Berahino, who joined the club from West Bromwich Albion in January, will soon find the back of the net.
Berahino has started the club's last six league matches, but he is still searching for his first goal in 10 games and was hauled off after 58 minutes in last weekend's 3-1 win against against Hull City.
"I think everybody can see that he is getting stronger," Hughes said. "He needs a goal. That is what all strikers need just to settle into a club and he has been close in recent weeks.
"It is only a matter of time. Maybe people thought he deserved a few more minutes because he was getting close but those are the decisions I, as a manager, have to take.
"But, as we have seen, Saido is getting closer to the level we know he is capable of and he'll score goals before the end of the season. We are convinced of that."
Wayne Routledge misses the game with a hernia problem which may require surgery, while Jack Cork is also absent again with an ankle injury.
A reshaped midfield is likely to see either club captain Leon Britton or Tom Carroll get the nod over Jay Fulton after last weekend's 1-0 defeat at Watford.
And the Swans will make a late decision on Llorente, with Jordan Ayew standing by.
Hughes is hopeful of having midfield duo Joe Allen and Glenn Whelan back available for the trip to South Wales.
Allen, an ex-Swansea player, and Whelan have trained this week after missing the victory over Hull last weekend due to a hamstring problem and virus respectively. Forward Jon Walters' knee issue is being monitored, but he should be fine to be involved.
Fit-again goalkeeper Jack Butland was an unused substitute against the Tigers, returning to the matchday squad for the first time in over a year, and Hughes has said there is "a possibility" he will play at the Liberty.
Swansea have won just one of their last seven Premier League contests with Stoke (D3 L3).
Stoke are looking to win consecutive away league games at Swansea for the first time. Their win in October 2015 was their first in six away fixtures against the Swans.
Gylfi Sigurdsson has provided more assists from set plays this season than any other Premier League player (6). He's also created the most chances from set-pieces (44).
Marko Arnautovic has been directly involved in 10 Premier League goals this term (6 goals, 4 assists); the most of any Stoke player.
Swansea have lost five of their last six Premier League games (D1), after winning five of the previous eight.
Stoke haven't scored an away goal in the Premier League since January at Sunderland, going 506 minutes without a goal on the road.
If Hull win, Swansea have to win too and I think they will. I don't usually go against Stoke but I watched the Potters last week and wasn't too impressed despite the result.
They scored three world-class goals but Hull were the better side for big parts of the game.
Swansea have Manchester United at home and Everton away coming up so that makes Saturday an absolutely massive match for them.
They should just about squeak past Stoke, keeping their survival hopes alive.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1 (Sky Bet odds 8/1)
Swansea are Sky Bet's 6/5 favourites for the points, with both a Stoke win and the draw priced at 23/10. The Swans are, however, up against the odds to stay up, with odds of 8/15 for them to face relegation, while their visitors are 11/8 for a top-half finish.
Llorente and Sigurdsson are the 5/1 joint favourites in a wide-open first goalscorer market, with Peter Crouch and Berahino following at 6/1 apiece.
Swansea v Stoke is included in this weekend's Super 6 line-up, with £250,000 up for grabs again following jackpot wins in the last two rounds. Enter your predictions for free here