Swansea V Man City at Liberty Stadium - Match Preview
Updated Saturday, 10th March 2012
Graham issues City warning
Striker Danny Graham has warned Manchester City they will be facing a totally different Swansea side from the one they beat 4-0 on the opening weekend of the season when the teams clash at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.
Graham, who has scored 12 goals during an impressive first season in south Wales, made his Swansea debut in that hefty reverse at the Etihad Stadium as the visitors were handed one of the toughest possible starts to life as a Premier League club.
But on home turf Swansea have caused plenty of problems for the division's big names.
And, while league leaders City will start as firm favourites, Graham and his team-mates have set their sights on claiming another famous scalp.
He said: "Lots has changed since that first game. We have adapted well to the Premier League now and come into our own over the course of the season.
"Going there for the first game was always going to be tough and we took a bit of a beating in the end, but we never let it get to us and we always thought we were good enough to be in the Premier League and stay in the Premier League and that is what we are trying to achieve.
"I think we are a totally different team from when we last played them. Our confidence is sky high and we have done well against big teams in the league and we will be full of confidence and trying to take three points off them."
City head to the Liberty Stadium on the back of Thursday's 1-0 Europa League last 16 first leg defeat at Sporting Lisbon.
And while Graham is expecting a backlash from Roberto Mancini's side, he has called on the partisan Swansea support to help the home side ensure it is another uncomfortable away experience for the title hopefuls.
"They had a tough game against Sporting Lisbon in midweek but we know it will be tough for us on Sunday," he said.
"They will want to bounce back after a defeat, they don't like losing too many, so we are expectin a reaction from them on Sunday.
"It's up to us to get right among them from the start and give the fans a lift, the fans are vocal down here, they like to get behind the team and I am sure they will make it hostile for Manchester City on Sunday and we need to try and use that to our advantage.
"We are still classed as a little club in this league and they could think this is an easy three points to bounce back from a European disppointment, but we know it's not going to be like that and if we could unsettle them it could work in our favour."
Meanwhile, Kolo Toure has hailed his team-mate and brother Yaya as an "unbelievable" player.
Yaya Toure's importance to City was again highlighted on Thursday in the defeat to Sporting.
The dynamic midfielder was sorely missed when on international duty in January and early February but had returned to reinvigorate City's Premier League title charge with outstanding displays against Blackburn and Bolton.
With City just two points clear at the top with 11 games remaining, the 28-year-old is vital to his club's title hopes, and Kolo Toure said: "You know Yaya's quality - he is a great player.
"The team helps him play well and he helps his team-mates.
"He is technically unbelievable - he can play up front, at the back, down the middle, anywhere. He is a great player.
"Obviously we have some great players in this team and we are glad we have him as well."
Yaya Toure should return as City look to protect their advantage at the top of the table.
Kolo Toure is also likely to have a role to play with influential captain Vincent Kompany ruled out with a calf injury and his regular centre-back partner Joleon Lescott having a minor groin problem.
Right-back Pablo Zabaleta also remains sidelined with a hamstring injury but Micah Richards is expected to compensate for some of the defensive problems by returning.
City's title rivals Manchester United are also in action on Sunday as they host West Brom and Kolo Toure knows there is little room for error.
The 30-year-old said: "The season is long and in England there are no small teams.
"Every team will give their best and try to win against both teams [City and United].
"Every game we play between now and the end of the season is going to be massive for us.
"We will give it our all at Swansea. It is going to be a difficult game but we know with the quality we have, and the experience we have, we can do a good job."
Manager Mancini has indicated striker Mario Balotelli, who was fined a week's wages for breaking a club curfew last week, could start at the Liberty Stadium.
Balotelli impressed as a late substitute in Lisbon and there is a feeling the 21-year-old could be given the chance to repay the backing Mancini has given him over a series of misdemeanours.
When asked about this, Mancini said: "I hope so, but also last Saturday against Bolton he played well and scored a goal."
When asked further if Balotelli could start every remaining league game, Mancini said: "Yes, he can."