Welsh start to the year for Albion

Swansea City v West Bromwich Albion; Swansea.com Stadium, Monday 1st January 2024, 3pm

The Baggies kick off 2024 with a trip to south Wales to take on Swansea City who remain under the control of caretaker boss, Alan Sheehan, as the search for Michael Duff’s replacement goes on. For Albion, they have the chance to record their first league double of the season having won the reverse fixture back in August.

Monday’s game will be Sheehan’s seventh in charge and the Swans have picked up eight points during that time, the latest coming at the CBS Arena on Friday evening courtesy of a stoppage time winner from Liam Cullen direct from a free kick. Michael Duff took over at the Swansea.com Stadium in the summer after Russell Martin left to join Southampton, but things didn’t start well for the Ulsterman as the Swans picked up only three points in their opening seven games which included the defeat at the Hawthorns. However, four successive victories saw them rise up the table but one win in their next eight matches proved to be the end for Duff an he was sacked in early December. Almost a month later after Sheehan’s half-dozen games, City sit in 17th place in the table, ten points off the play-offs and eight points clear of the bottom three.

As well as the departure of Russell Martin, Swansea also lost their top scorer from last season, Joël Piroe, who we saw in Leeds’ colours on Friday evening. He has proved difficult to replace – Liam Cullen, former Palace striker Yannick Bolasie, former Blackpool striker Jerry Yates and on loan Bournemouth striker, Jamal Lowe, have all had spells as centre forward with varying degrees of success. Yates is the club’s top scorer, with six, but he has only two starts under Sheehan with 34-year-old Bolasie having started up front in their last match. Lowe has five goals along with former Walsall winger, Jamie Paterson, while Cullen’s late equaliser at Coventry was his third goal of the campaign.

However, perhaps the Swans’ biggest issue has been at the other end of the pitch. They have registered only four clean sheets this season, only Rotherham United and Preston North End have fewer, and none since the 0-0 draw with Sunderland in early November. The 5-0 defeat at Southampton on Boxing Day was perhaps the low point of the season as they collapsed late on, and they will hope that the late point on Friday will be something of a turning point.

Albion should go into the match full of confidence after back-to-back home victories including the excellent 1-0 win over Leeds United on Friday evening. On their last trip to Swansea, Corberán’s team were hoping for a victory and a miracle to make the play-offs but came up short, losing the match despite being ahead with 25 minutes to go, although other results meant that three points wouldn’t have got them into the top six. The Baggies are a better side this season, however, while the Swans lost their top scorer as well as their successful manager. This is a game that Albion should be looking to win.

At the time of writing, it is unclear whether Jed Wallace will be available for selection on Monday having limped off with 20 minutes left on Friday night. There is also the chance that Daryl Dike could be involved – Corberán had hoped to include him in Friday’s squad but evidently didn’t get the sign off from the medical staff. I’m sure the boss would like to rotate some of the squad given that there have only been three days since the last match, but he has limited options. Swift was on the bench on Friday so could be in line for a start at Swansea, while Sarmiento could also be called into the first eleven. At the back, Semi Ajayi was surprisingly brought into the team, presumably to add some pace into the backline to cope with Leeds’ speedy forwards, and we may see Bartley return to the team to face his old team.

With the FA Cup match next weekend, there will be a two-week break after this match before Albion return to league action and, with Corberán likely to make multiple changes for that fixture, there should be time for players to get some rest after this game. Until then, however, Albion have the chance to reinforce their top six credentials with a third successive victory, something they have done only once before this campaign, and if they play anywhere near their best, they should be able to defeat a struggling Swansea side.

Nothing can be taken for granted, of course, particularly given that the Baggies have only won on four occasions in that particular corner of south Wales, but if the Baggies can put in a decent performance, there is every chance that they can come away with all three points.


Albion’s first game of 2024 will be the 52nd time that they have lined up against Swansea City, or Swansea Town as they were known until 1969, but only 50 of the previous 51 meetings appear in the statistics. On the opening day of the 1939/40 season, 26th August 1939, a brace from Harry Jones earned the Throstles a 2-1 victory at the Vetch Field, but following the outbreak of World War II just over a week later, the season was brought to a premature close and all results were expunged, as were Harry Jones’ two goals.

When league football resumed seven years later, the same fixture list was used and, on 31st August 1946, Albion returned to the Vetch and took home the points once again although the score was 3-2 and it was Davy Walsh who scored twice with Frank Hodgetts scoring the winner. Harry Jones had been forced to retire due to injury in 1943.

In total, Albion have just four wins to their name in Swansea, the most recent coming just five years ago in November 2018 when Darren Moore’s team won 2-1 with two central defenders, Craig Dawson and Ahmed Hegazi, scoring the visitors’ goals. Since then has followed a goalless draw in the final game before the COVID-19 pandemic suspended the season, and two victories for the Swans including the late 3-2 win on the final day of last season when Joël Piroe scored the decisive goal in the 93rd minute.

The Baggies’ biggest win in Swansea is just 2-0 which came in March 2010. A Graham Dorrans penalty and a late strike from Ishmael Miller earned Roberto di Matteo’s team the three points to keep them on track for automatic promotion.

Their other win was a vital three points earned in the closing weeks of the 2013/14 season. Jeremy Peace’s left-field appointment of Spaniard Pepe Mel had proved to be something of a mistake and, when Albion travelled to Swansea in mid March, they had won just once in their previous 19 games, and hadn’t picked up a victory since Mel took charge in mid-January. Consequently, they were only outside of the bottom three on goal difference having won only four games all season. It started badly at the Liberty Stadium when Roland Lamah was put in on the left-side channel by Wilfried Bony, sold Steven Reid on the touchline to cut back inside and found the inside of the far post with a low shot to put the hosts ahead in the second minute. It stayed that way until early in the second half when Stéphane Sessègnon tried his luck from 20 yards out and found the bottom corner to square things up. Then, with five minutes to go, Youssouf Mulumbu intercepted a loose pass in midfield and advanced unchallenged to the edge of the box and then calmly passed the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the net to send the travelling fans behind that goal wild. Albion would go on to escape relegation, just.

For Swansea’s biggest win in this fixture, we have to go back to February 1929 when Swansea Town won a Division Two encounter 6-1 thanks to goals from Fred Marson, Lacky McPherson, Billy Hole, Jackie Cheetham and Ken Gunn (2) – Joe Carter scored Albion’s consolation.

Stat Attack

Current Form

Albion L W D L W W
Swansea City W D L W L D

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

12 Aug 2023 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 3 (Ajayi, Rushworth (o.g.), Swift (pen))
Swansea City 2 (Darling, Wood)

Last meeting at Swansea City

8 May 2023 – League Championship
Swansea City 3 (Cundle, Ntcham, Piroe)
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Yokuşlu, Ajayi)

Last win at Swansea City

28 Nov 2018 – League Championship
Swansea City 1 (McBurnie)
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Dawson, Hegazi)

Albion’s Record against Swansea City

  Overall   Away
  P W D L F A   P W D L F A
League 47 17 9 21 78 73   23 4 4 15 23 43
FA Cup 1 0 0 1 2 3   1 0 0 1 2 3
League Cup 2 1 1 0 2 1   1 0 1 0 0 0
Total 50 18 10 22 82 77   25 4 5 16 25 46

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