Hello and welcome to Sports Mole
's live text coverage of the Premier League meeting between Swansea City
and Stoke City
at the Liberty Stadium. This is a fixture that has taken on added significance in recent times due to a number of highly-contentious decisions and, with the sides separated by just one point, fireworks can be expected once more here tonight.
From the Chico Flores theatrics and a penalty that never was, though to a Victor Moses dive and the cheat-gate furore that soon followed, Swansea vs. Stoke is fast turning into one of the English top-flight's newest rivalries. Fingers crossed we have even more talking points this evening, but before the action let's check out some team news.
SWANSEA CITY XI: Fabianski; Rangel, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor; Cork, Shelvey; Barrow, Ayew, Montero; Gomis
STOKE CITY XI: Butland; Johnson, Cameron, Wollscheid, Pieters; Whelan, Adam; Shaqiri, Bojan, Arnautovic; Joselu
Two changes apiece at the Liberty stadium, then, as Garry Monk
and Mark Hughes
stick largely with the same sides from last time out. For the Swans, Modou Barrow and Jack Cork come into the middle, while Gylfi Sigurdsson and Ki Sung-Yeung both drop out.
As far as the Potters are concerned, Joselu and Xherdan Shaqiri are brought into the first-team fold to replace Mame Biram Diouf and Jon Walters. Those two players miss out on the squad altogether, meanwhile, with the former being granted compassionate leave following the recent passing of his mother.
SWANSEA CITY SUBS: Nordfeldt, Naughton, Bartley, Britton, Sigurdsson, Ki Sung-Yueng, Eder
STOKE CITY SUBS: Haugaard, Muniesa, Ireland, Wilson, Afellay, van Ginkel, Crouch
With Jordan Ayew seemingly starting in the No. 10 role, Sigurdsson has to settle for a back-up role this evening. Ki is the other player to miss out, as previously mentioned, having been overlooked in central midfield. Elsewhere, Angel Rangel is preferred to Kyle Naughton at full-back once more.
There is no room in the Stoke squad for former Cardiff City forward Peter Odemwingie, but the good news for the visitors is the fact that both Joselu and Shaqiri start at the Liberty Stadium. Should additional attacking nous be required, then Marco van Ginkel and Peter Crouch are among the subs.
Xherdan Shaqiri returns to the visitors' starting lineup this evening for his seventh Stoke City appearance
© Getty Images
The form of these two sides over the past month is contrasting to say the least, with Swansea failing to win any of their last four and Stoke winning two on the bounce. It all started to go wrong for the Swans following the last international break, as the momentum they had previously built up began to ebb away.
An unbeaten start to the season, including impressive results against both Chelsea and Manchester United, soon made way for more disappointing outcomes. There was the defeat at Watford, which is admittedly the Welsh outfit's only real poor result to date, while one point from games against Everton and Southampton followed.
's men went into the international break on the back of a well-earned 2-2 draw at home to Tottenham Hotspur, meaning that it is now four without a win but certainly not a time to panic. Victory tonight, for example, will soon turn those stats around and all of a sudden it will be one defeat in four - a more positive spin on things.
All that leaves Swansea five points off the relegation zone, but just three off the top half. In fact, a victory over Stoke will lift them above Liverpool into 10th thanks to their superior goal difference, so the onus is certainly there to pick up a positive result this evening.
The Swans, who spent the whole of last season inside the top half of the division, also boast a pretty decent home record. They currently hold claim to having the fourth best success rate in that particular department, but they can climb up to second - behind only league leaders Manchester City - should they pick up maximum points today.
I talked a bit about how things will look far more positive if they do go on and win this evening's match, yet Garry Monk also knows that a loss will make that positive early start look like an anomaly rather than the norm. The Englishman, a former teammate of opposite number Mark Hughes
in the late 90s, issued a rallying cry of sorts earlier this week ahead of games against Stoke, Villa, Bournemouth and Norwich to come in four of his side's next five outings.
Andre Ayew will start just off main striker Befetimbi Gomis this evening
While Swansea have been picking up some indifferent results, Stoke have been moving in the opposite direction by picking up some victories at long last. The Potters failed to win any of their opening six games, remember, with the nadir coming against Leicester City when they let slip a two-goal lead.
The worry for Stoke, who beat Aston Villa on their travels last time out, is that they have not won back-to-back away games since December 2011. That is a statistic they will be looking to change this evening, and if their recent form is anything to go by - seven points from nine - then they certain have a good chance of doing exactly that.
Since that disappointing home draw against Leicester exactly one month ago, Mark Hughes has guided his men to victories over Bournemouth and Stoke, with fixtures against Watford and Newcastle to follow tonight's clash with Swansea. That certainly provides a chance to get some wins on the board and push away from the drop zone.
With a win here tonight, the Potters can in fact climb above Swansea - and Chelsea - into 11th place in the Premier League table. That will certainly draw them closer to their target of a spot inside the top eight, which will once more cement City's rightful tag as an established top-flight side.
DID YOU KNOW? Modou Barrow becomes just the 15th different player to start for Swansea - the lowest tally of any side in the Premier League. It comes as little surprise to see Franck Tabanou criticise the club, then, having been afforded so little playing time since joining.
Sigurdsson is one of two starters from last time out to drop to the bench this evening for Swansea, but it is perhaps little surprise after his recent international exploits. The Iceland star is one of four players in the Swans' ranks to have helped his national side qualify for Euro 2016 this month.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS! Stoke have won only once on their last 18 trips to face to Swans, with a dozen of those games ending in defeat. Six of the eight Premier League meetings between these teams have been won by the home side, meanwhile, with the other two being drawn.
Well speaking of previous meetings, this is a fixture that certainly has an edge to it these days. It can pretty much be pinpointed to some comical Chico Flores theatrics a few years back, while a 'ghost goal' and Victor Moses' dive in subsequent years - not least plenty of handbags, also - has helped add some fuel to the fire.
Incidentally, Robert Madley was the official who awarded that phantom goal a couple of years back, and he will take charge of tonight's match to the joy of home supporters. Will the latest meeting provide us with some more talking points?
With kickoff fast approaching, there is still enough time to check out what the Sports Mole team had to say ahead of the final Premier League game of matchday nine
PREDICTION! Okay, the players will be making their way out of the tunnel shortly so it is now time to offer a pre-match prediction. As the league table suggests, with just one point between them, I am expecting a tightly-contested match this evening. The home side comes out on top so often in this fixture, though, which I believe will be the case once more on this occasion.
As touched on a little earlier, a place in the top half of the table awaits Swansea if they pick up maximum points this evening. The incentive is there for Stoke, also, who will leapfrog their opponents and climb into 11th with a win. Both sides are now out on the field.
So no win since August for the Swans, while Stoke are unbeaten in three. This could prove to be a pivotal fixture in terms of who can build some early momentum following the international break, with kickoff now just moments away.
KICKOFF! Swansea City get proceedings underway in South Wales against a Stoke side who have since recovered from their worst start in 25 years.
Swansea on the front foot from the off, getting a few crosses into the box which Stoke are just about able to clear. Decent start from the hosts.
STOKE CITY PENALTY! Well Swansea may have started brightly, but from the visitors' first attack Bojan breaks into the box and is clipped by Ashley Williams to earn his side an early penalty.
GOAL! SWANSEA CITY 0-1 STOKE CITY (BOJAN KRKIC)
Bojan brushes himself down to pick out the top corner and sends Fabanski the wrong way in the process. Great play by the former Barcelona man to win the penalty, as he turned on the pace to tempt Williams into making a costly foul.
It has been all Stoke since that early goal, with Swansea looking very shaky at the moment. Joselu is picked out by Arnautovic at the back post, but he is unable to get a shot away after bringing the ball under control.
Johnson is forced into a rash challenge down the Swansea left, but other than that Stoke have looked very comfortable since going ahead. Plenty of time for that to change, of course, although the hosts will have to settle soon.
Swansea are still struggling to find their composure at the moment. That early penalty, won and converted by Bojan, has quite clearly rattled them. Passing game is well off at the moment.
Cork's sloppy pass, after Shelvey's even sloppier pass, draws some groans from the home crowd. Luckily for the former Saints man he was awarded a free kick for having his foot clipped, so a chance for a shot to come in here.
Shelvey takes the free kick on from 20 yards out, hitting it horribly high over the bar. Poor attempt from a man who certainly knows how to hit the ball.
Cameron's challenge on Gomis looks for all the world as though it is going to bring about the game's first booking, but referee Robert Madley just settles for a stern word or two.
A let-off for Stoke, and Jack Butland
in particular, as the England international makes a howler of a simple clearance by taking two touches and seeing the ball escape him. He raced after it outside the box, getting a touch to the ball but seemingly leading with two feet when doing so. Moments later Shelvey's 25-yard effort is easily dealt with by the red-faced keeper
Another cynical challenge from a stoke player, this time Arnautovic, but he is the latest to avoid any sort of punishment. Robert Madley showing his leniency in the opening quarter of the game, as Shelvey wastes another free kick from range.
Bojan Krkic's penalty inside the opening four minutes separates the two sides with a quarter of the contest now played
© Getty Images
Gomis is playing poorly at the moment, with even the simplest of passes going astray. The Frenchman, who is looking to claim a Euro 2016 berth, has gone well off the boil since the opening weeks.
Arnautovic flicks out a leg at an opposition player to earn one final warning from the referee. The home supporters let Robert Madley know what they think about the lack of yellow cards so far.
It has been awfully scrappy throughout this first half, with no chances of note other than Bojan's penalty. Shelvey has had a couple of weak attempts, but that aside we have seen next to nothing in front of goal.
SHOT! Well had this landed about a yard lower we would have witnessed the goal of season without question. Bojan flicked a hopeful pass up to Joselu on the edge of the box, who did not hesitate to try an overhead-kick. Talk about audacious!
Montero wins his side the game's first corner, which Shelvey delivers right into the welcoming hands of Jack Butland. "England's number one" is the shout from the away end.
CHANCE! A decent opening for Glen Johnson to double the visitors' advantage, which he scuffs horribly wide. The full-back was played in down the right by Shaqiri, before getting away what was neither a shot nor cross in the end.
SHOT! Another decent chance for Stoke, who are ending this first half on top. Arnautovic laid the ball off for Adam to strike 20 yards from goal but, despite scoring many goals from that position in the past, the Scotsman smashed it well over the bar.
Stoke are playing with a real swagger at the moment, in a half they have certainly had the better of. The Potters may rue not making the most of these chances, however, as their opponents will surely only get better after the restart.
Taylor hangs one in the air in a decent position towards the back post, yet nobody had gambled. Gomis is dropping progressively deeper in an attempt to get on the ball, which certainly does not help.
YELLOW CARD! After all those Stoke challenges inside the opening 25 minutes, it is Swansea skipper Williams who earns the first booking for leaning in on Joselu with his elbow.
Shaqiri puts a delightful ball into the box, which just about evades his teammates and lands in the hands of Fabianski. Up the other end, Ayew's outside-of-the-boot cross is headed away before it can reach Gomis.
YELLOW CARD! Pieters is shown a yellow for his challenge on Barrow to level up the card count.
HALF TIME: SWANSEA CITY 0-1 STOKE CITY
So Bojan Krkic
's fourth-minute penalty proves to be the difference at the end of the opening 45 minutes. Swansea City did not manage to create a single chance of note, while Stoke City created a couple of decent openings which they failed to take.
The penalty decision was certainly the correct call, with Krkic taking the ball past one player before forcing a tackle from Williams. It was a smart piece of play from the Spaniard, who tucked away the resulting spot kick with aplomb.
The other big call centred around Butland's studs-up challenge on Ayew, which looked worthy of a yellow card at the least. Referee Robert Madley was lenient throughout the opening half-hour, however, much to the dismay of the home supporters inside the Liberty Stadium.
SWANSEA CITY SUBS: Nordfeldt, Naughton, Bartley, Britton, Sigurdsson, Ki Sung-Yueng, Eder
STOKE CITY SUBS: Haugaard, Muniesa, Ireland, Wilson, Afellay, van Ginkel, Crouch
A full set of subs for both managers to choose from, but it is Garry Monk who is likely to be the more tempted of the two to make a change at half time. Gomis has been starved of any real support up top, so maybe Sigurdsson or Ki will be thrown on.
This could all be about to change in South Wales over the next 45 minutes or so
RESTART! We are back underway at the Liberty Stadium. This is a big half for Swansea, who simply have to improve on their first-half showing.
Shaqiri works himself some space inside the opposition box, before curing one high over the bar. The early stages of this half are following a similar pattern.
SHOT! A little opening for Gomis, who was forced to take on a shot from around 20 yards out due to a lack of support. It failed to even test Butland on the end, however, while the striker blasted another attempt wide in the next attacking move.
Better from Swansea, who have already got a few shots away since the restart. Shelvey is the latest to try his luck, looking to pick out the bottom corner from range but narrowly missing the target.
Stoke have dominated the ball over the past couple of minutes, without really troubling Swansea at the back. The Swans will be happy to sit back for the moment to get a breather, but we can surely expect the tide to turn in a short while.
DISALLOWED GOAL! Arnautovic converts Pieters' cross from a couple of yards out, but he was well offside so had his celebrations cut short. Shelvey was shown a yellow for a late tackle in the build-up to that Swansea scare.
OFF THE POST! Almost a superb goal from Shelvey, who from an acute angle smashed the ball through the legs of Butland, only for the inside of the post to come to the visitors' rescue.
SWANSEA SUBS! The two men who made way for Swansea this evening, Sigurdsson and Ki, are both introduced with 30 minutes to go. Cork and Barrow depart the field.
Rangel does brilliantly to win the ball back for his side, before swiftly losing possession and allowing Pieters to swing one in. It has slightly too much on it for Joselu, however, so we remain at 1-0 with 18 minutes to go.
Ki's cross is headed away before Gomis can get to it, while Taylor chips the follow up over the bar. Swansea have looked more lively over the past five minutes, but have nothing to show for it.
This game is awfully stretchered now, as both sides take it in turns to get bodies forward. Moments after Taylor picked out the stands with his chipped shot, Stoke win a corner which Fabianski collects.
YELLOW CARD! Shaqiri enters the referee's book after fouling Taylor. Swansea looking a little more dangerous now, meanwhile, as Shelvey has another shot blocked away.
CHANCE! Brilliant movement from Arnautovic to latch perfectly on to a ball over the top, but he failed to flick it beyond the outrushing Fabianski.
CLOSE! Sigurdsson has stood out in his 10 minutes on the field, and he fizzes one a few inches wide. The shot had plenty of movement on it, but ended just wide of the target in the end. Van Ginkel has now replaced Adam for the visiting side.
Swansea continuing to probe away but Butland has had a comfortable night on the whole. Just no sight of goal at the moment for the hosts' attacking players.
The tactic seems to be working in this second half, too, as Swansea have been restricted so far
STOKE CITY SUB! A further change for the Potters, as Arnautovaic makes way for Afellay. Time really running out for Swansea now, as we approach the final 10 minutes.
STOKE CITY SUB! Montero makes a smart run down the left, but Ki's pass into his teammate's path has too much pace on it. Ireland is now on for goalscorer Bojan in the visiting side's final change.
SWANSEA CITY SUB! Ayew has again looked well off his best tonight and he has now been replaced by Eder. A final real roll of the dice for Garry Monk, with less than 10 minutes to go at the Liberty Stadium.
Swansea win themselves a free kick in a decent crossing position, but it fails to get past the first man to rather sum things up. Stoke have not had to do a great deal at the back, in truth, and they may have done enough to take all three points now.
SHOT! Well for pretty much the first time tonight, Gomis runs off the shoulder of his man to work a decent position, but he could not quite get a shot away. In the end he had to lay it off for Eder to strike, with the effort rather hopeless in the end.
Three minutes to go and still Swansea push forward. Again, though, there is just no real penetration and Stoke seem pretty comfortable.
Montero gets a cross in from the left, and a decent one at that, but Ki sees it very late and his header is closer to the corner flag than the goal frame. A second win on the bounce away from home for the first time since 2011 is just moments away for Stoke.
We are one minute into three added on at the end of this game, which still has just the one goal in it. That came via Bojan's penalty four minutes in, and since then Swansea have struggled to create any real openings.
Delilah rings out in the away end, with the Stoke supporters knowing that they are 60 seconds away from a third win on the bounce. Gomis is flagged for offside, and that should pretty much be that.
FULL TIME: SWANSEA CITY 0-1 STOKE CITY
So there we have it, then, as referee Robert Madley blows his full-time whistle to signal a fair few boos around the Liberty Stadium. These are tough times indeed for Garry Monk, whose side are now winless in six in all competitions.
Stoke are riding the crest of a wave, meanwhile, with Bojan's early winner taking them up to 11th place in the league table on the back of a third victory on the bounce.
That concludes Sports Mole's live text coverage of events from the Liberty Stadium, but be sure to sticks around for plenty of reaction. Thanks for joining!