Swansea City-West Brom Preview
Consecutive victories have Swansea City building confidence. They've also given the Swans much-needed breathing room in the relegation battle.
Swansea attempt to win three straight matches in a row for the first time this season Tuesday night against West Bromwich Albion.
For the first time in five seasons in the Premier League, Swansea City (6-7-10) are in danger of being relegated.
They're starting to change that. The Swans beat Watford 1-0 on Jan. 18 before surprising Everton 2-1 at Goodison Park six days later in Francesco Guidolin's debut as manager.
The victories pushed Swansea four points clear of the drop zone.
"We needed the two recent wins because it gave us a real boost," defender Jack Cork told the team's official website. "When there is a lot of pressure on you it makes it harder to perform, but when you get two consecutive victories it eases that pressure significantly.
"For us it's a big game. Maybe people outside of this club won't think that, but we can go above them in the table if we win. That would be three wins on the bounce, and for us that would be massive."
It would also be something the Swans haven't done since April 25-May 11.
They may have a new addition helping them match that run as Alberto Paloschi could be in line for his club debut. The forward was acquired for a reported £8 million from Chievo Verona of Italy but is still awaiting international clearance.
Paloschi had eight goals in 21 games for the Flying Donkeys this season, one shy of his total from 2014-15. He cited Guidolin as the reason he accepted the move, reuniting with his boss after playing for him at Parma from 2008-10.
"I worked with Francesco for two seasons at Parma and we got promoted," Paloschi said. "When I received a call from my agent to tell me that Swansea were interested it was great, but even more so because of the manager - it makes a big difference.
"I know the situation of the club and, being a striker, I know the expectation is to score goals and I've come here to do that."
Expectations are crystal clear as Swansea's 22 goals are tied with West Brom and only ahead of cellar-dweller Aston Villa (18) for the fewest in the league.
Andre Ayew has two goals in three matches after going six without one. The midfielder's eight goals are already two shy of his total with Marseille in Ligue 1 last season.
The Swans didn't need to do much offensively against WBA on Boxing Day, winning 1-0 while only putting two shots on target. They lost 2-0 in their last visit to the Hawthorns on Feb. 11.
West Brom (7-7-9) are trying to avoid being dragged into the relegation fight. They're seven points clear of the drop in 14th place but just three in front of Swansea in 15th.
The Baggies aren't inspiring much confidence in widening that gap. They played Villa to a nil-nil draw at home Jan. 23 and followed that with a 2-all tie against Peterborough United of League One in Saturday's FA Cup tilt.
"It's the last thing we wanted, but it's cup football," manager Tony Pulis told the team's official website of having to play a replay against The Posh.
Saido Berahino is trying to prove he belongs in the first XI after scoring twice Saturday. However, the embattled forward has gone 11 league games without a goal and has been used as a sub in the past nine.
Berahino had 20 goals in all competitions last season, including one at home versus Swansea. The subject of transfer rumours for nearly all of the January window, Baggies owner Jeremy Peace reportedly rejected a £21 million bid by Newcastle United on Sunday, and Stoke City and Tottenham - a long-rumoured destination for Berahino - may still make offers before Monday night's deadline.
"He's not fully fit, he lacks sharpness and not as good as he was last year," Pulis said of the 22-year-old. "We know he can do it and you can't take away the fact that he has a wonderful talent."