Throughout the second half of the 2018/19 season, millwallfc.co.uk will be analysing The Lions' opponents by taking a look back at their campaign so far. As we prepare to make the journey to South Wales to face Swansea City in the Sky Bet Championship, we analyse The Swans’ results so far this term.
Swansea City faced the task in 2018/19 of repairing the damage from last season’s relegation from the Premier League after an eight-year spell in the top flight. The Swans – appointing new manager Graham Potter, who had worked wonders with Swedish outfit Ostersund – endured an expected revamp of the squad, forced to offload key players from their first team such as Alfie Mawson, Lukasz Fabianski and Roque Mesa, spending money on replacements including Barrie McKay, Joel Asoro and Bersant Celina. The likes of Borja Baston and the Ayew brothers also departed the club, albeit on loan deals. A young Swansea team under Potter’s fresh stewardship began pre-season with two victories, over Yeovil Town and Newport County. Swansea participated in the Interwetten Cup in Germany, losing on penalties after draws with both Genoa and Magdeburg. A training camp in Austria then saw the South Wales side lose two more on the bounce to Eibar and Freiburg.
Swansea’s first Championship fixture since 2011 paired the side with Sheffield United at Bramall Lane for Potter’s first competitive match. Despite falling behind, The Swans secured a 2-1 win, followed by another three points in the club’s first game at the Liberty Stadium of the season against Preston North End with a 1-0 success. After a goalless draw with Birmingham City, Swansea played out an entertaining spectacle with Leeds United in a game which ended 2-2 in South Wales. August’s fixtures wrapped up with Swansea’s first League defeat of the season, going down by a solitary goal at home to Bristol City, with the side 10th going into September and a visit to The Den. A narrow loss to Crystal Palace eliminated Swansea from the Carabao Cup at the Second Round stage.
September turned out to carry the same record across five League fixtures for Swansea, with two wins, two draws and a defeat. Potter’s team made the trip to The Den to open September, following the closing of the loan window. After an early dismissal for Courtney Baker-Richardson, Murray Wallace gave Millwall the lead, but for late strikes from Kyle Naughton and Oli McBurnie to snatch the points. Following the international break, Swansea went three games without scoring as they played out stalemates with Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough, and lost 1-0 at Stoke City. Finishing the month with a degree of gloss after a 3-0 victory over QPR, Swansea rose to seventh.
The QPR win at the end of September proved to be a sole win in seven games for Potter’s team in the Championship, as October began with a goalless draw at Wigan Athletic. A shock result followed, as bottom club Ipswich Town secured their first win of the season at the Liberty, with The Swans going down 3-2. A defeat to Aston Villa after the international matches sunk Swansea to 15th, their lowest ranking this campaign – albeit in a very tight mid-table competition. This was demonstrated just three days later as three points in a 3-1 success against Blackburn Rovers lifted The Swans to eighth, which was maintained with a 2-0 win against Reading.
Despite only four League games in November, Swansea succumbed to three defeats. A late blow at Rotherham to lose 2-1 through two penalties was followed by a 1-0 victory at Bolton Wanderers, a lone win for Potter’s men throughout the month. Successive home defeats to Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion ended November on a sour note, with The Swans conceding six goals across the two matches at the Liberty. The Welshmen remained in the top half, but approached December with form requiring improvement.
December began with a continuation of the rut, as Swansea lost 2-1 at Derby County. However, form picked up with a blistering first half at Brentford to win 3-2, before coming from behind at the Liberty to earn three points against Sheffield Wednesday. Defeats followed either side of Christmas as consistency was questioned again for Potter’s men, beaten 3-2 at Hull City and 1-0 by Aston Villa on Boxing Day. Swansea rounded off 2018 by rallying for a point against Wigan, drawing 2-2 after trailing by a two-goal deficit. The New Year began with The Swans in 13th position.
January proved to be a busy month for Swansea, as the club faced what turned out to be six competitive games. A thumping away performance at Reading saw the team start 2019 in great fashion with a 4-1 triumph, before impressively dispatching Aston Villa 3-0 at Villa Park in the Third Round of the Emirates FA Cup to set up a tie with Gillingham. A 1-1 draw at Preston North End was then topped by a 1-0 victory over promotion challengers Sheffield United, as The Swans returned to ninth place. The Fourth Round of the Cup beckoned for Swansea, sweeping Gillingham aside by four goals to one, securing another home draw in the last 16 – this time against League rivals Brentford. Finishing January with a thrilling 3-3 home draw with Birmingham in which McBurnie reached 15 goals for the season with a last-minute equaliser, Swansea cleared several big names from the wage bill on loan deals on Deadline Day, with Wilfried Bony, Jefferson Montero and Tom Carroll all departing on a temporary basis. A trip down the M4 to Bristol City resulted in a 2-0 defeat for Swansea to begin February, with the club in 13th but just six points outside the Play-Offs in an incredibly open Championship battle.