Swansea Updates
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It has been reported that Swansea City are keen to sign their former midfielder Joe Allen from Liverpool.

Swansea want a Joe Allen-Brendan Rodgers reunion at the Liberty this summer
The Swans were interested in bringing the Welsh midfielder to the Liberty stadium in the January Transfer window but the move failed to materialize. However, the Welsh club is still very much interested in bringing back the Liverpool midfielder, amidst rumors that former manager Brendan Rodgers may take over the reigns next season.

Joe Allen has been a bit part player for the Reds this season under Klopp. He currently has one year left on his contract, starting from this June, and there have been no talks with respect to the extension of his deal.

Hence, Swansea would look to swoop in and make the move for their former midfielder. The Swans have struggled this season but have been able to crawl their way back to safety under new manager Guidolin. However, it has been reported that Brendan Rodgers is the favorite to replace the Italian next season.

It seems that Liverpool are interested in Ghanaian attacker Andre Ayew. The Swansea attacker has been targeted by Sunderland as well with the North eastern club having reportedly made an offer of around £10 million.

Andre Ayew has been subject to interest from Liverpool, who are Ayew's boyhood favorites.
It seems that Sunderland have been scouting Ayew for some time with their latest bid being rejected, However, they may make another offer of around £14 million in the near future. But it seems that Liverpool are looking to hijack the deal with the Reds showing interest in the player as well.

Swansea had just signed Ayew in the summer of 2015 with the attacker enjoying a good start at the Liberty stadium. However, his performances started to decline along with the performances of the club, who sacked Garry Monk earlier in the season, and it seems that the player may be open to a move.

With Sunderland set to fight a relegation battle, Ayew may prefer a move to a more recognized Premier league club like Liverpool.

Louis Van Gaal and Manchester United would have looked to put their disastrous month of December in the past and start the new year on a good note. And fortunately, they were able to win against a Swansea side which would regard themselves slightly unlucky to have not taken anything from the game.

Louis van Gaal
United started the game at a blistering pace proving that the fluidity shown against Chelsea was not an isolated event. Martial, in particular looked lively along with the attacking trio of Rooney, Herrera and Mata. With Ashley Young providing the much needed width on the right flank, United were certainly playing the old way with crosses put in at regular intervals.

However, Swansea were able to show their attacking threat as well with the pace of Routledge and Ayew definitely causing problems for the United defenders. Swansea were able to settle into the game after sometime and were able to demonstrate their passing game with the game being quite even going into the break.

The second half started on a similar note with United again starting the half on an attacking note. However, this time they were able to take advantage of their early dominance. Ashley Young put in a beautiful ball from the right which was headed in by Martial and the Old Trafford faithful definitely heaved a sigh of relief.

However, Swansea similar to the second half, were able to create some chances with the best chance coming when Ayew failed to convert a Sigurdsson cross and Rangel not being able to establish any connection with the ball on the follow up. The full back went down in the clash with Darmian looking for a penalty but was yellow carded by Jon Moss.

However, they were rewarded for their efforts with around 20 minutes still to go. Substitute Barrow, who was quite effective after being brought on, put in a good cross with Sigurdsson heading the ball past De Gea.

It again seemed the same story for LVG. However, immediately after the equalizer, Martial produced some excellent work down the left and put in a cross for Rooney who brilliantly back flicked the ball past a hapless Fabianski for United to take the lead for the second time in the game. This time however, United were able to defend their lead, although a last minute header from a corner by Fabianksi just missed the United goal.

United now move into fifth place just two points behind Tottenham and although the game was not the most entertaining at times, LVG would be delighted with a win. The title may be a distant dream. However, the place for that Champions league spot is definitely a realistic aim and a win after such a bad run was absolutely vital for the Red Devils.

Manchester United entertain Swansea at Old Trafford in their first Premier league game of 2016 and Louis Van Gaal will certainly hope that the new year brings some much needed optimism around the squad.



Manchester United vs Swansea: Preview
United are on a eight game win less run and they will be looking for a victory against a Swansea side who have been flirting with relegation this year.

However, the Swans have certainly been United's nemesis over the last couple of years and LVG would certainly be wary of that fact. Even though, they have not been that great this season with their manager Garry Monk sacked, Swansea have the capability to hurt United given the fragile confidence within Van Gaal's squad. His replacement, albeit on an interim basis, Alan Curtis has been able to calm down things at Swansea.

The red devils are nine points off the pace from a title point of view and face tremendous competition for the top 4 spot. Any result other than a win will threaten LVG's career as a United manager. On the other hand, the Swans may look to repeat the heroics of last season with a victory at Old Trafford. Swansea ,however, have lacked that killer instinct this campaign and United are expected to win a hard fought battle on Saturday.

United will mostly name an unchanged squad from the game against Chelsea considering the manner in which they played and with no one likely to come back from an injury. However, Swansea may bring about certain changes for this game, with Routledge expected to return along with Ayew and Sigurdsson.

Manchester United Starting 11:
De Gea, Smalling, Darmian, Blind, Young, Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin, Mata, Herrera, Rooney , Martial


Swansea Starting 11:
Fabianksi, Fernandez, Naughton, Williams, Taylor, Shelvey, Sigurdsson, Ayew, Routledge, Gomis, Ki Sung -yueng

Predicted Score:
Manchester United 2-1 Swansea

Swansea City have released a statement confirming that they have decided to part company with their manager Garry Monk. This brings an end to his 12 year long stay at the Liberty stadium. Monk was a player at the club before taking charge as the manager in February 2014.

Swansea City have announced they have parted company with manager Garry Monk.
The sack has come as a surprise to a few, especially after he did so well with Swansea last season, finishing an impressive eighth.

But Swansea's current form has been terrible and they lie 15th in the table, just 2 points above the relegation zone. Swansea actually started the season well with Ayew and Gomis in good form but their recent showings have been terrible. They are now without a win in their last five league games and have won only one in their last 11 games. Swansea's last game was against Leicester City which they lost 3-0 after a horrendous defensive display and it summed up their season somewhat.

Many may argue that the club should have given Monk more time given that he had done well as their manager for the last two campaigns and that he was a long serving player at the club. But Swansea has chosen to move quickly and have already started to look at possible replacements.

Monk managed 77 games in total for Swansea and has won 28 of them with a win record of 36%.

The most high profile names doing the rounds include David Moyes and Brendan Rodgers who are both currently unemployed. Rodgers looks like the more probable option though, given his previous association with the club.

Jurgen Klopp’s first premier league victory at Anfield came on Sunday when Liverpool defeated Swansea City 1-0.  Liverpool moved to 6th position in the table trailing six points behind the leaders Manchester City. A much-needed victory for Klopp’s men and their stellar performance in the recent weeks has assured their resurgence to fight for the UCL spot.

Liverpool fans rejoiced the return of long-term absentees Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge
Liverpool started the match with much confidence and composure, and eventually they would have broken the deadlock in the 7th minute, when youngster Jordan Ibe raced into the penalty area but his poor touch handed over the ball to Kyle Bartley whose tackle guided the ball crashing into the post.

The match was little bit rusty and both sides failed to create a clear chance for the remaining part of the first half. In the 62nd minute, Liverpool’s high-end pressing paid off when the linesmen pointed to the spot after Neil Taylor appeared to have handled Ibe's cross inside the penalty area.

James Milner converted from the spot and gave them a valuable lead. The match finished at 1 – 0 with Swansea City failing to equalize for the remaining part of the game.

Klopp commented on victory during post-match conference:
"It was really difficult for both teams, the wind was in the stadium more than the stands.
"Swansea defended very well. They had some problems in the last few games but they were more compact. I am proud of the lads. It is a good result in difficult circumstances."

Liverpool will be hosting Swansea in their Premier league encounter on Sunday. Liverpool will be looking to maintain their momentum against Swans and put themselves back in the contention for Champions League qualification spot. Meanwhile Swansea will be looking to break Liverpool’s dominance and find themselves back to winning ways.

Liverpool vs Swansea - Preview
Team News:

Klopp will be welcoming in-form midfielder Phillipe Coutinho, after the Brazilian limped off in Liverpool’s 4-1 win against Manchester City at Etihad. Klopp will be looking to make a change in the midfield line, as Lucas Leiva will miss the fixture due to suspension. Welsh midfielder Joe Allen will be replacing Lucas in the starting line-up.

Daniel Sturridge is struggling to make his first-team action; he injured his foot ahead of Liverpool’s Europa League clash against Bordeaux. Liverpool’s skipper Jordan Henderson returned to training, but he is not in the contention to make his return to the squad. Liverpool defender
Mamadou Sakho will be in sidelines and Croatian defender Dejan Lovren will be keeping up his place in the line-up along with Martin Skrtel.

Jonjo Shelvey will be serving his two-match suspension, thus making him unavailable against his former club. Jack Cork will be replacing Shelvey in the starting line-up.

Predicted line-up:

Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno, Can, Milner, Allen, Coutinho, Lallana, Benteke.

Swansea: Fabianski, Naughton, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor, Ki, Cork, Ayew, Sigurdsson, Montero, Gomis.

Predicted score:
Liverpool 3- 1 Swansea

Manchester City are in advanced to sign Swansea forward Wilfried Bony. Sources claim that the Ivorian will be on the move the premier league champions for a reported £30 million.

Wilfried Bony [Image from flickr by Global Panorama]
The 26-year-old is due to join up with his national side (Ivory Coast) in the Middle East for a training camp, prior to the Africa Cup of Nations. He was the Premier League's top scorer in the calendar year of 2014 with 20 goals.

Bony was heavily linked with a move away from the Liberty Stadium during the summer, with Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool being heavily linked with striker. He later signed a contract extension with Swansea back in November, removing his £19 million release clause.

Bony signed a four-year contract with Swansea City in July 2013, who paid a Welsh record fee of £12 million.

Article contributed by: Kevin Santos

Twitter: @kevin5996

Swansea suffered a defeat last week against a strong West Ham side that looks complete and is moving towards setting up a league best finish.

Swansea vs Tottenham
Swansea started season like a house on fire and continue to stay within reach of a European spot. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Wilfried Bony have been the shining lights as they are among the best in the assist charts and scorers charts in the league. A red card did not help their cause as they pushed for an equaliser. Swansea welcome a Spurs side that is usually poor after a Europa league outing. Swansea have an impressive home record, and are unbeaten in the last five.

Spurs left White Hart lane having been booed off, are missing Emmanuel Adebayor, lost to Besiktas and have manager Mauricio Pochettino under massive pressure. Away form has been their biggest positive and the side will take a trip away to discover some form of continuity. A record of 16 points from a possible 18 at home and away against Swansea leaves them in good stead.  Could this be the year that Swansea turn it around? It will be a high tempo affair and against two sides who look to play with the ball around. Expect a goal laden clash. Two players that should grab the headlines will be former players Ben Davis and Gylfi Sigurdsson. It will be interesting to see how both would react should either score.

Key Players:

Wilfried Bony- The Ivory Coast striker has had a brilliant 2014, and looks set to end the year as the top scorer in the league all year with 19 goals. Strong aerially and a strong performer this season, a destructive combo with Gylfi Sigurdsson has seen the two combine for fifteen of the nineteen goals Swansea have scored: A Potent pair.

Jan Vertonghen- Fresh from gaining his 100th cap for the club, the Belgian star will be a key figure as Spur cross the border to Wales. Ability to anticipate, make timely tackles and versatility are some of his best assets. Can he stop Gylfi and Bony?

Article contributed by: Benedict Chanakira

Twitter: @bchanakira2

Jonjo Shelvey [Photo Credit: FA]
Since I can remember, England managers have been derided for always picking players from the big teams, or having their favorites. Whilst it sounds petty and it sounds like sour grapes, it's mostly true. Chris Smalling has been in plenty of England squads on reputation alone, despite being an average defender and poor in possession, which is a cardinal sin in international football, while Curtis Davies is forced to watch England games from his living room sofa.

Roy Hodgson, however, despite the criticisms leveled at him, is starting to break the mould a little bit, though it may have taken a little bit too long. Nathaniel Clyne has been the best English right back for at least 2 years, yet the player he kept out of the Southampton team, Calum Chambers, moved to Arsenal and got a call-up. That's not to say that Chambers shouldn't be in the England set-up, just that Clyne should have been first choice for a while now. At least Hodgson has seen sense and finally called him up, which other managers may not have done.

Probably the clearest example of this philosophy starting to change is the inclusion of Jonjo Shelvey, an enigmatic but talented young midfielder. Shelvey has impressed at Swansea with his fantastic range of passing and eye for goal. The London-born midfielder should suit international football, as it is generally played at a slower pace and he excels in a possession based game. He is generally very composed but sometimes picks the wrong pass which can cause trouble, though this side of his game has improved since joining Swansea. What this may indicate is not only a change in selection policy but a change in playing style for England. Whereas before we aimed to sit back and break with pace, using Sterling and Sturridge's speed which is so often displayed at club level, maybe this indicates a shift to a possession based game.

Though Shelvey is often deployed in a deeper role, England still lack a proper holding midfielder. Attempts at playing Wilshere as a defensive midfielder will likely fail, though the national team appears to have an obsession with trying to play box-to-box midfielders in defensive positions, as Wilshere takes over Gerrard's mantle of not defending. There is a lack of top English holding midfielders at big clubs, so for some reason England just play without one, rather than look at other options at 'smaller' clubs. Every top team has a holding midfielder, not just a central midfielder. For every Xavi there's a Busquets, for every Fabregas a Matic and for every Yaya Toure there's a Fernandinho. England should look at the less glamorous options, such as Jack Cork, a talented midfielder who has been key to Southampton's superb early season form. Cork is technically proficient but reads the game superbly, allowing him to break up attacks and start them. Lee Cattermole is an unpopular choice, but one that should be explored. He has a very underrated technical side to his game but he also does the dirty work - it's surprising that such an archetypal English midfielder is so ignored, but then he plays for Sunderland, rather than Man United.

Andros Townsend makes another squad, despite being a wasteful footballer who offers very little but the odd wonder goal to a team. He's selfish, inconsistent and hasn't played regularly for months, but Townsend had a few good games for England 6 months ago, so he stays in, whilst the top scoring Englishman Saido Berahino goes to Croatia with the U21's. Berahino at 21 has fired 5 goals in 8 games this season for a team who many tipped to struggle. Though I think he should be in the England squad, I understand that maybe the U21's is best for him right now, it just seems bizarre to not call up the best English striker at this current moment.

Though England boss Hodgson has started to break the mould in terms of selection, there's a long way to go until England select players on form and ability rather than reputation, but with the exit of big name players like Gerrard and Lampard in recent years, maybe this will change, gradually.

Article contributed by:  Elliott Griffiths 

Twitter: @ElliottBCFC

Yesterday, just before Man United's unceremonious dumping out of the Capital One Cup by a superb MK Dons side, Angel Di Maria became the most expensive signing for an English club of all time. As Fernando Torres will attest to, money doesn't always equal success, but Di Maria could well be the best signing of the season if he can reproduce his form from last season and if Man United can fit him into their side, but enough has been said and written about Di Maria's role. This is about players who could be the Signing of the Season for less than Mario Balotelli, another big name signing, as I look at the slightly lower profile signings that could shine this season.

1. Remy Cabella

Remy Cabella
Despite being touted as a star attacking midfielder in France with many French journalists and fans endorsing him for some of the biggest European teams (no disrespect to Newcastle, but they're not quite Dortmund or Atletico), it seemed that teams were reluctant to take a risk on the creative midfielder. Cabella is a very quick, skilful midfielder who loves to take a man on and is a very good goalscorer from midfield. He creates chances for those around him and though Newcastle are yet to score, he has been the brightest spark in the team and their season's hopes could rest on him.

2. Bojan Krkic


Bojan Krkic [Image from Flickr by: Tsutomu Takasu]
8 years ago, if you'd have told the coaching staff at Barcelona, and any scouts who'd seen him play, that Bojan would end up at Stoke at 24, they'd have laughed in your face. Having been touted as the biggest young talent in the world with comparisons made to Lionel Messi, those comparisons seem a long way away now. However, there was a reason that he was rated so highly by Barcelona, so if Bojan can showcase his talent that he clearly possesses, then £6.5 million could be an absolute steal for Stoke. Bojan is a wonderfully gifted player with a similar style to the aforementioned little Argentinian, who could be an absolutely amazing signing if, if, he can flourish in England.

3. Cheikhou Kouyate

Cheikhou Kouyate [Image from Flickr by: Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht]
West Ham have recruited extremely impressively; Mauro Zarate is similarly talented to Bojan, but Cheikhou Kouyate could be the real coup for West Ham. A powerful midfielder who is adept at playing at centre-back too, Kouyate joins national team mate Mohamed Diame at West Ham and after two impressive performances for West Ham, he looks like he could be an improvement. Diame is extremely talented but inconsistent so Hammers fans will be hoping he can continue his form which has some people comparing him to Patrick Vieira. Maybe a touch too far, but Kouyate could be a extremely impressive signing who goes under the radar.

4. Gylfi Sigurdsson

Gylfi playing for Iceland in 2012 [Image by:Andrzej Otrębski]
After a mixed spell at Tottenham, Sigurdsson is back at Swansea, where he appears to be more comfortable, which is wonderful for Swansea fans to see, but also the neutrals. Sigurdsson is a yard of pace away from being an elite player, making him a perfect fit for a team aiming to break into the top half of the table. He is a wonderful striker of the ball, capable of scoring goals from almost any distance, with impeccable technique and passing range. Surrounded by the pace and skill of players like Nathan Dyer and Wilfried Bony, he could really show his talents this year and really grow into the player that he looked like he would be as a young player.

5. Dusan Tadic

Dusan Tadic
The most expensive buy in this article, Tadic comes with a big reputation in the Netherlands, despite not too many people knowing who he is in this country. Tadic is a direct replacement to Adam Lallana at Southampton, at half the price they sold him for. He's a similar player - capable of beating a man and creating chances for the players around him - but time will tell whether he can be as successful. If he is, then he has to be considered a bargain, due to the price of Lallana. Tadic has a lot of ability and could be one of the best creators in the league if he hits form.

So who will be the lower profile Signing of the Season? I personally fancy Cabella to shine this season, but it could easily be any of the mentioned players.

Article contributed by:  Elliott Griffiths 

Twitter: @ElliottBCFC

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