Belfast Telegraph

Paul Clement: Showdown in Stoke is like a cup final for Swansea

Paul Clement has described struggling Swansea's trip to Stoke as a "cup final".

The Swans have slid into the Premier League relegation zone after taking only one point from their last six games.

But Saturday's opponents Stoke are only four points better off than Swansea having won only once in seven games.

"This is a really important game and we need to treat it like a cup final," said Swansea head coach Clement.

"The reason is we are five games away now from the halfway point.

"We're on nine points and we must try and get as many on the board by halfway, as we will then know what we're going to need for the second half of the season.

"Stoke are another team struggling for a little bit of form and then we've got West Brom at home, which will be a very similar situation."

Swansea are the lowest scorers in English football's top four divisions, notching only seven goals in 14 games.

But Clement takes encouragement from the fact that Swansea, who are above basement boys Crystal Palace on goal difference, remain in close contact with those above them.

"You never want to get cut adrift, but the fact is we are not at this moment," Clement said.

"The gap between us and 12th position is six points, so we are far from being cut adrift.

"As more games go by there is that concern that it can potentially happen, but there are others struggling for form and confidence who have not put points on the board themselves.

"It was a massive turning point for us when we beat Stoke at the end of last season.

"It was a critical point of the season and the margins went our way, so hopefully we can turn that corner again."

Swansea's trip to the Potteries sees them come up against their former midfielder Joe Allen, who they attempted to re-sign last summer.

Stoke rejected a £20million offer for Allen, but Swansea are not expected to revive their interest in the 27-year-old Wales international during the January transfer window.

"He (Allen) is a really good footballer and one we must make sure doesn't affect the game too much," Clement said.

"It was no secret he was a player we were interested in bringing back, but for various reasons it wasn't possible.

"As far as January is concerned, there are other priorities we've got to look at before we start looking at central midfield."

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