Swansea have only ever spent six seasons in the top flight of English football and although they recorded a Premier League best finish of eighth place last time around under the management of former player Garry Monk they have never equalled the sixth place finish in their first season in Division One in 1981/82. Their four seasons in the EPL have seen them finish between eighth and 12th, but can they make the step up to push into the top six this season?
Following the sacking of Michael Laudrup halfway through the 2013/14 Premier League season and the impressive performance of Garry Monk as player/manager the defender was appointed the full time manager for the season. The Englishman impressed too as the end of the first month of last season saw Swansea in second place in the league and Monk awarded the Manager of the Month award. They continued to show that were deserving of challenging for their best finish ever as they were sixth at the end of October and eighth at the end of November when top scorer Wilfried Bony left for the African Cup of Nations. He had scored nine goals in 16 matches but did not return from Ghana as he signed for Manchester City.
They slid to tenth place in the league by the end of January without Bony, but with midfielders Ki Sung-yueng and Gylfi Sigurðsson as well as striker Bafétimbi Gomis finding goalscoring form near the end of the season they moved back into the top eight and missed out on a place in Europe for the upcoming season by just four points. They won many admirers and saw 36 year old Monk become one of the hottest young managerial talents around. Can he guide the Welsh side even higher this coming season?
2015/16 EPL Preview:
Breaking into the top six of the Premier League is a difficult task for any side with Man United, Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham all heavily favoured to retain their grip on these positions while Southampton impressed last season and Stoke are fancied to improve after some astute buys already and Everton are not expected to do as poorly as last season without the worries of Europe overstretching the squad. Swansea will need to buy well and keep hold of their biggest and best talents if they are to stand still, let alone move up the league, in what promises to be a very competitive Premier League season at the top of the table.
Ins and Outs:
André Ayew – The Ghanaian 25 year old arrives in the Premier League on a free transfer from Marseille where he has been since breaking into football in 2007. He has a better than one goal per four matches record where he has been utilised as both a left winger and a striker, with him most likely deployed in the latter position for the Welsh club. He has scored 11 goals in 62 caps for his country and he certainly has the calibre to make a big mark on the EPL this season.
Franck Tabanou – 26 year old Tabanou arrives at Swansea from Saint-Étienne in a deal worth more than £3m as Gary Monk further bolsters the left side of this team. The Frenchman is equally adept as a left back or left sided midfielder and he brings a wealth of more than 200 French top division and European experience with more than 20 goals to the club where he is aiming to see Swansea return to Europe for the 2016/17 season.
Kristoffer Nordfeldt – The Swedish international goalkeeper has signed for Swansea following the departure of two back up ‘keepers and he will challenge current number one Lukasz Fabianski for a starting spot in the side. Nordfeldt arrives from the Netherlands where he played more than 120 times over four seasons for Heerenveen and he has been capped five times by his country over the last four years.
Swansea released 12 players once their contracts expired at the end of June and the list is mainly made up from fringe players. However, as mentioned in the section on Kristoffer Nordfeldt the biggest names of the group that have gone are goalkeepers Gerhard Tremmel and David Cornell. With the addition of the Swede the club will feel that they are in a good place right now. The question is, can they hang on to all of their key players for the upcoming campaign?
Swansea EPL Preview Bets:
With the top half of the Premier League for this upcoming 2015/16 expected to be even more competitive than last season there is plenty of betting value to be had on Garry Monk and his Swansea side. We take a look at some of the best odds and bets on offer with Bet365.com.
The online bookmaker does not see the Swans as any real contender to win the title or to be relegated to the Championship in their fifth successive Premier League season, although if you fancy them to secure the title or to be relegated they can be backed at odds of 1501.00 and 9.00 respectively.
Although they are the outsiders in these two markets Bet365.com do see Swansea being around the middle of the table, perhaps even pushing towards the top six and equalling their best ever top flight finish. They can be backed at odds of 15.00 to finish sixth or better, while they are available to win the Premier League title at odds of 11.00 without the big six sides mentioned earlier in this EPL preview. They are behind Southampton and Everton in this market, but we feel that 11.00 is pricing them a little too high as they finished the season just four points behind Southampton last time around despite it being Monk’s first season and them losing their main striker halfway through the campaign.
If you’re not a fan of taking that risk then there is always the less risky bet of backing Swansea to finish in the top ten of the league at odds of 2.25 in the Bet365 Sportsbook. We’re certainly going to be having some of this, with a smaller bet going on them to win the title without the big six as well.