Michael Laudrup’s Swansea welcome Championship side Middlesbrough to the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday night with both sides attempting to negotiate another hurdle on the path to Wembley.
The road to the Capital One Cup final has become a little less difficult with last night’s surprise exit of Arsenal and tonight’s rivals will be hoping victory will give them a semi-final match-up with the Gunners’ conquerors, Bradford City.
Laudrup’s men come into Wednesday’s game off the back of a home defeat to Norwich City, where they were blown away by the Canaries' first half performance but showed admirable fighting spirit with a second half comeback that almost brought them back to parity at the final whistle.
Despite the weekend’s loss, the Swans have been in terrific form of late and had previously gone seven games unbeaten, a run which began with a victory over their former boss Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool side at Anfield in the last round of this competition. They followed this up with a creditable draw with Chelsea and stunning victories on the road at Newcastle and Arsenal.
Swansea have some injury concerns going into this Quarter Final tie and will likely be without Michel Vorm, Pablo Hernandez and Leon Britton while Ashley Williams will sit the game out through suspension. But apart from the necessary changes it is unlikely Laudrup will shuffle his pack too much as the Welsh club look to progress towards the first major Cup Final in their history.
Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray takes his team on the long journey to South Wales in indifferent form. They had lost three of their previous four games before making hard work of victory at the Championship’s bottom club, Peterborough United.
Despite their recent difficulties, Boro’ still find themselves healthily placed in third spot in the Championship and looking ahead to the crucial Christmas period where Mowbray would expect to cement their place amongst the frontrunners for promotion to the Premier League.
With this is mind it is likely that Mowbray will ring the changes to his starting line-up and although a Cup semi-final place is a great achievement, his first priority must be success in League football. To that end, Middlesbrough’s manager is expected to rest the legs of some of his most influential players.
On loan Josh McEachran is ineligible while former England and Real Madrid defender Jonathan Woodgate is unlikely to be risked with his ability to play so many fixtures close together always in question.
The confidence currently flowing through the Swans should be enough for them to see off Middlesbrough, who have other fish to fry this season as their main goal is to reach the promised land of the Premier League. Swansea, sitting pretty in the upper echelons of the EPL, can afford to go all out to reach the semi-finals and can record a straightforward victory.
Prediction: Swansea City 3-0 Middlesbrough