Birmingham City v Swansea City
Skybet Championship. Kick Off 7.45pm, Friday, 17th August. Live on Sky Sports.
SWANSEA have easily been the most successful of Welsh clubs in recent years. A fairytale rise up the leagues to the promised land of the Premier League began in May 2003, when they survived relegation to non-league with a 4-2 victory over Hull on the final day of the season. Eight years later the Swans had reached the top flight and in 2013 lifted the League Cup at Wembley.
Sadly for the Swans this level of success wasn't to last and there was an air of inevitability about the relegation last term that ended a seven-year spell in the Premier League.
Many fans attribute the decline to the American owners who arrived in 2016, as they have overseen the sale of several quality players including the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente, and hired and fired managers at an alarming rate (Graham Potter is their 6th manager in just under two years.)
More star names including Alfie Mawson have departed over the summer but Potter, who arrived as manager via an unconventional route following great success in Sweden with Ostersunds, has started well with two wins from his first two games. Automatic promotion will be a tough challenge at the first time of asking but the Swans will be hoping for a play-off push at least.
Birmingham manager Garry Monk is a name familiar to Swansea. He played in all 4 divisions for the club between 2004-2014, captaining them for the majority of that time, and then going on to become manager before his sacking at the end of 2015 ended a 12-year association with the club. After spells with Leeds and Middlesbrough, Monk became Birmingham's fifth manager in just 15 months in March this year.
A decent 2-2 home draw to Norwich was followed by a 1-0 loss away to former club Boro, and Monk will be hoping for a first win of the season in front of the TV cameras on Friday night. The club has been involved in two relegation battles the past couple of seasons and will be aiming to avoid that scenario again this year.
I predict an attacking game of football between the two, with Birmingham eager to get a first league win of the season under their belts and the Swans growing in confidence after a good start. While calling an outright winner looks tricky I'm tipping goals in this one.
- Over 2.5 goals, 23/20 (Bet365)
- Both teams to score 5/6 (Bet365)
- Oliver McBurnie (Swansea) to score anytime 2/1 (Skybet)
- Swansea to win 3-0, 3-1 or 3-2. 17/2 correct group score betting (Skybet)