Swans will face brains as well as brawn at the Brit
THERE are few encounters in the Premier League which create a starker contrast in styles than when Swansea City meet Stoke.
Tomorrow's match will pit Tony Pulis's henchmen against Michael Laudrup's artists; Staffordshire's Wile E. Coyotes against the South Walian Road Runners.
Stoke's pugnacious approach has been well documented, though it is still effective and can unsettle some of the top flight's higher classes.
Reigning champions Manchester City failed to cope with the long balls which rained on their box as they drew 1-1 at the Britannia Stadium, while Arsenal have come unstuck in the Potteries on more than one occasion.
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Arsene Wenger was so rattled by Stoke's rugged dismantling of his side that he described them as a rugby side, with the Potters' fans gleefully responding with chants of 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot'.
Swansea will know what awaits them tomorrow — they were soundly beaten on their last visit to the Britannia.
And since that 2-0 triumph in February, Stoke have strengthened again.
They are as physically imposing as ever, with former Blackburn totem pole Steven Nzonzi adding more muscle and height to the midfield.
There is greater ammunition for their forwards too, following the transfer deadline-day signing of Charlie Adam from Liverpool.
The Scot will supply the likes of Peter Crouch with consistent service from set-pieces, easing the burden on Matthew Etherington who was previously in charge of corners and free-kicks.
On the other wing, another recent recruit Michael Kightly will bring pace and direct running which could put Swansea's full-backs under pressure.
These additions to the Stoke side are emblematic of Pulis's gradual evolution at the Britannia.
With every season they secure Premier League survival, the Potters strengthen their squad with signings of increasingly high quality.
Even their bench boasts international pedigree, with players such as Michael Owen, Kenwyne Jones and Matthew Upson in reserve.
Swansea will not be facing mere bullies tomorrow — they will have to overcome a side of proven Premier League calibre.