Ahead of the Everton's trip to Wales, we spoke to the fantastic Swansea City blog SOS Fanzine - Steven is an old friend of this blog and has been talking to us over the seasons since the Swans entered the Premier League. We did a return Q&A with them too, which you can read here.
RBM - Swansea have had quite the string of possession-driven managers: Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup. How is Laudrup perceived by the fanbase?
SOS - His stock was very high last term after guiding us to a 9th place finish and winning out first ever major trophy with the League Cup. His stock is still high but there have been one or two moan and groans with some of his decision making so far this season. In terms of league positioning then I would say we've done fine so far but a lot of our performances haven't really hit the heights of the previous season as yet which has left a few fans scratching their heads a bit. Hopefully now Europe is out of the way for the next few weeks we will see our league performances improve.
RBM - Tell us about the Europa League adventure, how has that been? The Swans got a tough draw coming up, facing Napoli - what are your your expectations in that competition?
SOS - Obviously the stand out moment was the 0-3 win in Valencia which was incredible. I travelled out to Spain for that one and for the last hour an hour I lost count of how many times I glanced over at the score board and thought is this really happening? Since then our displays have been quite lacklustre to be honest and we were a little bit lucky to scrape through. At the start of the season I thought we had a good chance of making it through the group stage and from then it depended on the draw and it couldn't have got any tougher than Napoli who were extremely unfortunate to not go through in the Champions League. You'd have to say we're unlikely to progress here, their home record is very impressive and they have some very gifted players. We did beat Rafa Benitez over a two legged League semi-final though so never say never. We've got nothing to lose is how I look at it so bring it on!
RBM - After 11th and 9th place finishes in previous season, I had Swansea earmarked to breakthrough into the top six or seven this season. Is that still likely?
SOS - I don't think so. Laudrup has rotated the squad a lot so far this season with us having all the extra games and I think that's brought with it a lack of consistency in our displays. I can't see him changing tack so for this season I don't think we'll finish in the top half. If we weren't in Europe and had stuck with a consistent eleven then I think you're prediction would have had a chance of being correct.
RBM - How does the Swansea youth set-up look? Do you have any players who you will be expecting to break through to the senior squad any time soon?
SOS - It's unlikely at the moment I would say but you never know. When Ben Davies broke into the team he wasn't expected to have much of an impact but he's been a revelation. The youth set-up has been a weak area for a while now but the club are spending money on it to improve so I think we will start to see more youngsters feature in the first team over the coming years. If we could have a few in the first team every week like Southampton have achieved then that would be fantastic.
RBM - The January transfer market will soon be upon us. Who will Laudrup be targeting? Who have the press been linking the Swans with so far?
SOS - Well I think we've been targeting a winger and as Nathan Dyer got injured last week then I'd say that's a number one priority. Tom Ince's name has cropped up and I think that'd be a good move at a reasonable price. He'd already be a hero to our fans as he turned down Cardiff in the summer! Elsewhere a striker could be a possibility, we've found out today Michu may need an operation at some point so Laudrup may want some cover there. Iago Aspas is a player the manager likes and with his Liverpool appearances restricted a loan move there could be in the offing.
RBM - Finally, a score prediction for Sunday. What will you be expecting on the pitch, and who will shine for either side?
SOS - Given our abysmal record of never having beaten Everton in our history I just can't back us to win so I'll say a 1-1 draw. I would expect it to be a very easy on the eye game with both teams looking to keep the ball and create opportunities. For the Swans it depends who starts but Michu and Wilfried Bony could be key men as could Jonjo Shelvey who tends to either be brilliant or awful - there's no inbetween. For Everton Romelu Lukaku has to be watched, Laudrup wanted him in the summer and I'm gutted we didn't get him he's fantastic. Ross Barkley is the other player we'll have to keep quiet and I would have said Gerard Deulofeu but he's out injured as I understand it.