Adjusting to life under Russell Martin: An expert view on Blackpool's next opponents Swansea City
Blackpool’s Championship campaign gets back up and running this weekend with a long trip to South Wales to face Swansea City.
Due to the international break, the Seasiders haven’t played since their pulsating 1-1 draw with QPR on Saturday, November 6.
The result left Neil Critchley’s side well situated in the table, where they sit 10th and just one point adrift of the play-off spots.
Pool have been in top form since the start of September, winning seven of their last 12 games.
But they face a Swansea side that are also in good knick, with four wins to their name from their last six outings.
Under new boss Russell Martin, the Swans have won their last four on the spin on home turf and haven’t been beaten at the Swansea.com Stadium since the opening month of the campaign.
Nevertheless, they’re currently two points behind Blackpool in the table in 12th and three points off the top six.
Ahead of Saturday’s game, The Gazette caught up with Ian Mitchelmore, Swansea City reporter for Wales Online, to find out a bit more about Blackpool’s next opponents.
- What's been the story of Swansea's season so far? And what's the realistic aim?
After a slow start in terms of results, things picked up significantly in the most recent block of fixtures where Swansea claimed 12 of the 18 points on offer.
The fitness levels have improved since the early days of the campaign which has played a key role in the upturn in performances, with Swansea now able to control proceedings for longer periods within games.
In terms of the aims for the season, it was always to implement a style that fans wanted. Most supporters would have accepted a mid-table finish as long as there were signs of progress in terms of the playing philosophy, but some may well harbour hopes of achieving more after seeing some very impressive performances already.
- How have the fans taken to Russell Martin?
Very well indeed. He's been welcomed with open arms since day one and Martin has reciprocated that love by regularly demonstrating his pleasure with life in south Wales.
- He got MK Dons playing some really attractive stuff last season, is he replicating that with Swansea?
Absolutely. It felt like a slow burner early on, although there were mitigating factors, not least the fitness of the players, but also injuries, a lack of depth in certain areas that were remedied in the transfer window and Covid-19 problems.
But as the season has ticked on, the signs have looked increasingly encouraging when it comes to results, but, crucially, regarding performance levels too.
- Which players should Blackpool fans watch out for?
Joel Piroe has proven to be lethal in front of goal while his partner in crime Jamie Paterson has provided the creative spark this season while also being a real goal threat himself.
Ethan Laird causes mayhem at right wing-back, so he's another one Blackpool will need to nullify.
- Which players are likely to be unavailable?
Barring any issues from the international break, Swansea should have a fully fit squad to select from.
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