Swansea City FC: 5 Predictions for Swansea's December Schedule
In August, Swansea City were the outright favorites to be relegated from the Premiership at the end of the season.
Considered to be the weakest of the three promoted sides, Swansea were given little or no hope of staying in the league by pundits and press alike.
However, with a third of the season gone, they have proven they belong in the league, with some good performances against reputable opponents.
Manager Brendan Rodgers has instilled a belief in his players, as well as sticking to his philosophy of playing attractive, passing football.
December will pose them a number of tests though, and these could make or break their season.
Here are my five predictions of what the month will bring for The Swans.
1. Fortress Liberty Will Crumble
The main reason Swansea find themselves in a decent league position is their home form.
The Liberty Stadium has become a fortress in the last four months, with the hosts losing just one of their six matches and conceding only two goals in the process.
However, three potentially dangerous home fixtures lie in wait for "The Swans."
Fulham are something of a sleeping giant, sitting in 15th in the league and yet to get going under new boss Martin Jol, but could cause Swansea some real problems with their solid defence and combative midfield.
To close out December, QPR and Tottenham travel to south Wales in the space of four days.
Spurs are hotly tipped to be challenging for third place this season, with some suggesting they could launch a title charge.
QPR have had an up-and-down return to the top flight, suffering heavy defeats to Bolton and Fulham, yet beating Chelsea and finding themselves safely in mid-table.
Due to these testing fixtures, Swansea's home form will take a turn for the worse, and it will take a lot of character to rebuild it in the new year.
2. Traveling Will Be More Fruiful
Swansea have not traveled well so far this season. Four losses and two draws on the road is not a record to be proud of.
This is, however, in no small part due to the fact that they have already taken trips to Stamford Bridge, Anfield, The Etihad and The Emirates.
However, even when travelling to Carrow Road and Molineux, the Swans have been unable to generate any momentum on the road.
With fixtures away to Blackburn, Newcastle and Everton, the away form of the Welshmen could really pick up.
High-flying Newcastle will provide the toughest test, but they should be able to overcome strugglers Blackburn, while Everton are vulnerable, despite their league standing of eighth.
With their home form set for a downturn, the Welsh side will need to pick up their away performances to ensure they do not fall into the relegation zone.
3. Key Players Will Continue to Impress
A number of star players will continue to shine throughout the cold winter nights of December.
Former Chelsea youngster Scott Sinclair has been a consistent performer since arriving in Wales 18 months ago, and was a key figure in their promotion from the Championship.
A quick and skillful midfielder, capable of both setting up and scoring goals, Sinclair will continue to impress, and he could attract interest from larger clubs come the January window.
Another important player is goalkeeper Michel Vorm, who signed this summer from Dutch outfit FC Utrecht.
Vorm has put in numerous first-class performances since his arrival, and will be crucial if Swansea are to break away from the foot of the table.
Others, such as Welsh centre back Ashley Williams and midfielder Leon Britton will also need to continue their good form if Swansea are to usher in 2012 with a few more points under their belt.
4. Fatigue Will Set In
With six matches in under five weeks, the depth of Brendan Rodgers' squad will be thoroughly tested.
The Swans do not have great strength in depth, and if injuries start to pile up, the rails could come off quickly.
They have not had to deal with any major injury worries so far this season, and if they were to lose players like Danny Graham and Nathan Dyer, their form could deteriorate quickly.
This will be the real test for Rodgers in the coming months, and December could shape the rest of their season.
5. Brendan Rodgers Will Win Even More Fans
Brendan Rodgers had the shortest of playing careers, but it looks like he will be a successful and respected manager for many years to come.
The Northern Irishman began coaching at the tender age of 22, and it wasn't until 13 years later that he made his managerial debut with Watford.
Three years and two clubs later, he has instilled in this Swansea team a fluid, passing mentality and a philosophy that good football can and should be played against any opposition.
Rodgers' team will pass numerous teams to death, but it's whether they can put the ball in the net that will ultimately make the difference.
Rodgers can be credited with this free-flowing football, and he has earned a lot of plaudits from his colleagues and media pundits, with many tipping him to move on to a bigger club soon.