West Brom-Swansea City Preview
LONDON (SE) - Two top-half Premier League teams will meet at the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday evening when Swansea City host West Bromwich Albion.
West Brom have been a revelation this season, and wins in each of their last four league games have taken Steve Clarke's side up to third in the table - just four points off leaders Manchester United. However, striker Shane Long is aware that it will be hard for the Baggies to stay in their lofty position.
"The table makes nice viewing, but we're not getting carried away," said the Irish forward. "It's good times at West Brom. The fans are very happy. But the further we go the more respect we'll get from other teams and the harder it will be. Maybe we can win five or six in a row then see what happens.
"Swansea are a good passing team too and that should make it a good game to watch. We know we'll get nothing easy. But, if we work as hard as we did when we won at Wigan and at Sunderland on Saturday then we'll have a chance of winning."
The Swans have lost just one in eight, and manager Michael Laudrup was delighted by the latest point - picked up in the 0-0 draw with Liverpool.
"It was a good point," said Laudrup. "I thought we deserved it as well because the performance of the team was very good. The clean sheet was nice as well because I can't remember the last time we had one of those.
"It was the start of a difficult week for us because we now have to prepare for a tough game on Wednesday against the surprise package of the season so far. If we can win on Wednesday it would take us up to 20 points after 14 games, and for a club like Swansea that would be fantastic."
Swansea's Luke Moore and Danny Graham are both struggling with illness, while the trio of Michel Vorm (groin), Kyle Bartley (thigh) and Neil Taylor (ankle) remain out. Laudrup started Nathan Dyer and Ki Sung-Yeung on the bench for the game against Liverpool, and the main selection headache will be whether to return both to the starting line-up and shift Michu to centre-forward, or stick with the team that restricted Liverpool so effectively on Sunday.
The Baggies have doubts over Ben Foster (groin), Youssuf Mulumbu (hamstring) and Steven Reid (hamstring). With the Premier League schedule throwing up three games in a week, Clarke is likely to consider rotating his attacking players, with Romelu Lukaku and Marc-Antoine Fortune pushing for starts after scoring as substitutes in the win over Sunderland.
The Swans won both meetings between these sides last season, scoring five goals and conceding just the once. The game at the Liberty Stadium last September saw Swansea pick up their first win and score their first goal after gaining promotion to the Premier League, and they finished the campaign level on points with West Brom safely in mid-table.