Swansea have shot at three points
Whenever I think of Burnley in the context of Swansea City, I remember the David Edgar loan fiasco. Three and a half years ago, when still a Championship side, Swansea attempted to bring defender Edgar in on loan to cover for an injured Garry Monk, but failed to get international clearance in time. The same thing happened six months later with a loan move for another defender, Rafik Halliche (from Fulham), and again the same summer with a transfer for yet another defender Darnel Situ (from RC Lens, who would eventually join the Swans, only to be released earlier this year).
It's hard to believe Swansea used to have so much transfer trouble given how well the side have recruited since those days. This summer is no exception, and Monk has been both inspired and decisive in his transfer business, getting good deals done early. The latest bit of business -- for another defender, as it happens -- might not have garnered many headlines, but shows how much progress Swansea have made.
Federico Fernandez was bought from Napoli for roughly 8 million pounds. That makes him the Swans' third-most expensive ever purchase (assuming Gylfi Sigurdsson, who technically joined in a swap deal, to have a representative value of 10 million pounds). The Argentine defender was part of Alejandro Sabella's World Cup squad, and started the first four games of this year's tournament until injury forced him out.
Here then is a player good enough to start for one of the world's best national sides, a man who has counted Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Javier Mascherano as teammates, now playing for Swansea. Had Fernandez's countryman Marcos Rojo not signed for Manchester United on the same day Fernandez came to Swansea, perhaps the media would have made more of the move. Regardless, Fernandez is a first class capture for Swansea, and there's a chance the new man will start this Saturday against Burnley.
The match will be Swansea's first home game of the season, and Burnley's first one away. The Liberty will be packed tight with fans still buzzing following last week's surprise away day victory over Manchester United, while Burnley will be cautiously licking their wounds following their own 3-1 home defeat to Chelsea.
That game was played on Monday night, which has given Burnley two fewer days to prepare and rest up for Saturday's tilt. Sean Dyche should take heart in the goal his side scored against Jose Mourinho's Chelsea, who held last season's best defensive record by some margin. To that end, Swansea might be thankful to include another international calibre defender in Saturday's starting XI.
Whether that happens remains to be seen. With all due respect, Burnley represent a 'weaker' opponent, and as such Monk might prefer to spare his absolute best. In that case, Jordi Amat could retain his place alongside ever-present captain Ash Williams, if only to allow Fernandez another week to learn the Swans' system in time for West Brom (along with a few choice expressions from the English language edition of the Premier League defenders phrasebook).
Swans fans will be itching to see their new man, though. For all the fondness former centre back Chico Flores engendered in Swansea fans with his loveable antics and mushy farewell letter, Fernandez is in another class. Monk's summer recruitment had until now been focussed on adding quality and depth to the attacking unit, but Fernandez could do for the Swans defence what Wilfried Bony has done for the attack.
Regardless of his team selection come Saturday, Monk's side will be competitive and set on a home victory. The Swans' boss has been rapidly engineering a team without obvious weaknesses or deadweight, one in which cogs can interchange without reducing the efficacy of the machine. There are still areas that could use some depth, but Monk can certainly tick off 'central defence' from his to-do list.
If last season was marred by inconsistency -- partly the by-product of an imbalanced squad which Monk has since completely revamped -- this season should be different. The win over Man United was the best start possible. Another over Burnley, a relegation favourite by virtue of being newly-promoted and as such the pole opposite of United, would prove the Swans -- and Monk -- mean business regardless of the opposition.