Clement Aims To Build On Improving Home Record
Paul Clement has given his thoughts ahead of this evening's home friendly against Sampdoria (5.15pm).
In our final friendly match before the Premier League 2017/18 season kicks off in a week's time, Clement is looking for his Swansea City side to 'set the tone' as he aims to continue our excellent home form.
As he told the Official site, the Swans lost only twice at the Liberty Stadium following his appointment, against Arsenal and Spurs. The only other game they failed to win was the goalless draw against Middlesbrough.
"We won our last game at home last season against West Brom and in general our form at the Liberty has been good since I arrived at the club,"
"That`s something we want to continue in the new season.
"We had only two home losses in the second half of last year, against Arsenal and Tottenham, and there was a draw with Middlesbrough.
"But we won all the other home games. That is a really good record and we want to build on that.
"We need the Liberty to be a place where we are comfortable and opponents find life difficult. This game is a chance for us to set the tone."
Talking about today's opponents - Sampdoria, Clement believes that the Italian side will offer the right sort of test ahead of the opening game at Southampton:
"Sampdoria provides us with the challenge we need ahead of the start of the season,"
"We are going to be playing strong opposition and a club with a lot of history who have good players.
"Whenever you play an Italian side you know they are going to be wise on the ball, good defensively and well organised.
"We need this test because our Premier League games against Southampton and Manchester United are very close."
Having used a variety of different starting teams during the friendlies so far, Clement is expected to name a side that's closer to his strongest side in preparation for Southampton.
It's likely that he'll continue with a 4-3-1-2 formation - a system that proved crucial to our late surge of wins last season that kept us up.
Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham will again join Jordan Ayew up top, with Leroy Fer moving further forward into Sigurdsson's central attacking role.
Behind them, Clement has a few decisions to make on the midfield trio. He hasn't had both Mesa and Britton on the pitch for any decent length of time (if any) in the friendlies so far, so I'm not sure if he'll name Mesa, Britton and Carroll as starters today.
It looks like he feels that Mesa will be our central, and deep-lying midfielder, with Leon Britton as the back-up option. Carroll will surely start on the left side of the midfield three, with the right side open to the likes of Jay Fulton and Matt Grimes, but we really need stronger options for that position.
I would expect that when Sigurdsson is finally sold and we bring in his replacement, that Fer would revert back to playing in that right-sided midfield role.
At the back, we carry on from last season - which many fans aren't happy about. Again, we haven't strengthened there - and our back-up options are again lacking in quality. Mawson will partner Fernandez - who both developed a decent partnership towards the end of last season. Naughton and Olsson as full backs, and they too don't have good enough competition for their places.
Despite that, Clement has said that he's happy with his squad - that is if Sigurdsson stays. It's been reported that the club would look to make at least two signings before the end of the month if he does complete a move to Everton.