Swansea finished the international break with a defeat to Stoke, but are yet to drop below seventh in the Championship and have occupied top spot on a number of occasions already. What have you made of their start to the season?
It’s been far better than anyone expected, I can say that honestly. The defeat to Stoke was only the second defeat of the season so far, both of which, unusually, came at home. Swansea had a brilliant home record before those two defeats but their away form has been excellent; they are yet to lose on the road in the Championship and their only away defeat has come to Premier League Watford in the Carabao Cup. Even after that defeat to Stoke – which was a real bad day at the office – they are still just outside the top two and have started life under Steve Cooper well.
Have you been surprised that they’ve managed to reach those heights, despite Steve Cooper’s lack of experience in senior management prior to his summer appointment?
I’ve definitely been surprised by the fact they’ve made such a good start, especially after losing Daniel James and Oli McBurnie – who was top scorer with 24 goals in all competitions – as they were two of the best players last season. Steve Cooper has come in and built on the work that Graham Potter did last season; he’s not ripped up the rule books, he’s tried to make minor tweaks with a view to getting a better product overall and it’s shown so far. I know they’ve had a bit of a blip of late, but it shows how good their August was, when they won seven of eight games in all competitions, the other of which was a draw. It has been a surprise and I don’t think anybody could’ve anticipated this start being has good as it has been, but there were a lot of foundations laid last season in terms of the youngsters that came through. With that little bit of experience from the likes of Andre Ayew, Wayne Routledge and Borja Baston, there is a good blend at the moment.
Former Brentford left-back Jake Bidwell joined the club in the summer after his QPR contract expired. How has he settled to life in south Wales?
He’s had a very good start and had started every game in the Championship up until his red card at Bristol City, which was the result of a very cynical challenge right at the end of the game, though it probably didn’t deserve a straight red. Nevertheless, he was suspended for three games and came on as a substitute in the defeat to Stoke having been left out of the starting 11. With Kyle Naughton suffering an injury in that game, Jake Bidwell will probably be straight back in the team for this block of fixtures coming up over the next few weeks. He’s a very solid addition, gets up and down the wing well and he’s put in some important deliveries, getting an assist here and there.
Which player has impressed you most so far this season?
I’d have to say the centre-backs – Joe Rodon and Mike van der Hoorn – have been superb. But for me, the pick of the bunch has been goalkeeper Freddie Woodman. He came in on loan for the season from Newcastle and has been absolutely brilliant. He’s been a big part of Swansea’s good start to the season and has kept a fair number of clean sheets but it’s not just that – his communication with the back four, as well as his decision-making, has been top notch.
How is Steve Cooper likely to set up his side?
It’s going to be the usual 4-2-3-1 system and, depending on injuries and whatnot, it’ll be: Freddie Woodman in goal, a back four of Jake Bidwell on the left, centre-backs Joe Rodon and Mike van der Hoorn and Connor Roberts at right-back. The two holding midfielders are likely to be Matt Grimes and Jay Fulton and the front three will be either Wayne Routledge or Kristoffer Peterson on the left, Bersant Celina in the No 10 role, Andre Ayew on the right and then Borja Baston up front on his own.
Swansea have won the last seven meetings between the two, but what’s your score prediction for Tuesday’s game?
It’s a really tough one. They’ve got a good record against Brentford and the home record has especially been very good, so I have to say I’ll go with a Swansea win. I’ll keep it tight and say 2-1.