Birmingham vs Swansea
EFL Championship. Kick Off : Friday 17th August, 19.45pm . Live on Sky Sports.
BIRMINGHAM'S 5th manager in under 2 seasons Garry Monk gets a visit from the club that let him go in 2015 after a run of 1 win in 11 when Swansea were 15th in the table.
Was this the start of the slide for the club? Who knows? Swansea won't care. They have started well with maximum points from 2 games and, of the three relegated Premier League sides, they seem to have realised quickly there is a real battle on.
The appointment of Graham Potter, whose story as manager of Ostersund in Sweden was a real football fairytale, is one that Huw Jenkins the chairman must have thought could bring unity and team spirit to the club, with the added bonus of not having to spend anything.
The fans chanting “where's the money gone” in the 1-o victory at home to Preston and the likes of Alfie Mawson, Sam Clucas and the Ayew Brothers all leaving to balance the books shows the extent of financial readjustment relegation brings.
Swansea's squad still has the likes of Leroy Fer, Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge and I think in Oli McBurnie and Barrie McKay they have a couple of players who are capable of hurting Birmingham.
McKay hit a screamer in the 2-1 away victory against Sheffield Utd that thumped off the bar, with McBurnie notching in that game. He then proceeded to miss from the spot against Preston!
That said, Monk will not want to lose this game, and not just for his attachment to Swansea as manager and player. Birmingham should have beaten Norwich but conceded an injury-time equaliser that must have gutted the fans.
Monk has had to deal with a transfer embargo, and watching Britt Assombalonga score what turned out to be the winner for Middlsbrough on Saturday, a player he signed when in charge of them must have capped what even he admitted was a poor performance from his team, especially in the first half.
They need a lift and the points, and their supporters will be up for it as usual. But a 2-0 defeat in the EFL Cup, experienced midfielder Gardner out after a red card and Trueman in goal and the defence looking shaky against Boro? Keeper David Stockdale has apparently been frozen out by Monk as well. I think Swansea will be a side more comfortable away from home this season and can win this, with Birmingham finding the net.