In most seasons, the English Premier League has not been kind to the team who came up into the league via the League Championship Playoffs. A very average Hull City side somehow avoided the drop in the 2008-09 season thanks to the spectacularly incompetent Newcastle United, but they were the exception, not the rule. Oh, and they crashed and burned the following season. Swansea are facing long odds to stay up, but there are a few reasons they just might do it.
Though Blackpool were relegated to the Championship last season, Ian Holloway's side showed that a team on a limited budget can come up from the second division and play attacking football. Brendan Rodgers is likely to subscribe to a similar philosophy, and he has more players to do it. He doesn't quite have someone of the class of Charlie Adam at his disposal, but the attacking band of three in his 4-2-3-1 setup is extremely talented.
The names Nathan Dyer, Scott Sinclair and Stephen Dobbie don't jump off the page. The former two players are youngsters who haven't yet tested themselves in the Premier League - as full-grown adults, at least - and the latter is a 28-year-old who never tried. However, these players were fantastic throughout the Championship season in 2010-11 and they have the quality to keep a team in the top flight. Plus, speed is effective at every level of the game and the two wingers, Dyer and Sinclair, have that in bunches. Wayne Routledge, David Cotterill and Andrea Orlandi are also decent players, making the wings the spot on the Swansea roster with the most depth.
Swansea could have a Charlie Adam of their own, but it's all dependent on whether or not he can come back from injury. Following his serious knee ligament issues that first popped up in 2008, Ferrie Bodde was one of the best players in the Championship. A fantastic playmaking central midfielder, Boddie is (or was) also an extremely strong tackler with a knack for scoring goals from midfield. He hasn't been fully fit since 2008 and he's been out of action for 18 months, but he's finally starting to come back to full fitness from his knee injuries. If Bodde is anywhere approaching as good as he was before his injuries, Swansea might become favorites to stay in the Premier League.
As for what they actually have in the center, Swansea are thin but have a couple of very solid players. Leon Britton and Joe Allen were very good last year and downright fantastic in the Championship Playoffs, and should be - at the very least - decent and serviceable players in the center of the pitch for the Swans. Veterans Mark Gower and Thomas Butler are reliable if unspectacular players as well, and should get plenty of minutes. With Boddie out, the center of midfield won't feature much in the way of creativity for the Swans, so most of the play going forward will have to be dictated by the attacking band of three behind the central striker.
Up top, the squad feature's a who's who of strikers who have been previously spit out by an unforgiving top flight. All of Craig Beattie, Danny Graham, Leroy Lita and Luke Moore have been to the Premier League on more than one occasion and all have failed to make themselves stick on every occasion. Based on their performances in the Championship and occasional solid games in the top flight, it seems plausible that the Swans could pick one reliable Premier League striker out of the bunch. However, this could also end up being the team's biggest weakness if none of that group of four proves themselves to be worthy of starting for a Premiership side.
In the back, Swansea will be able to play a very good back four for a team just coming up from the Championship, but that back four is not especially deep. Should a couple of their first choice starters suffer injuries, Swansea are likely looking at a big problem and a back line that is no longer Premier League quality. Neil Taylor and Angel Rangel should start at the fullback slots, but veteran and team captain Garry Monk will see his fair share of games depending on their form and fitness. Vice-captain Alan Tate and the extremely talented Ashley Williams should start the season in the center of defense, but they will be under pressure from Steven Caulker, the immensely talented 19-year-old on loan from Tottenham Hotspur.
These six players are Premier League quality, but there's no one behind them on Swansea's roster with extensive professional experience. Most teams in the Premier League have at least eight, if not more serviceable defenders on their roster, so Swansea better hope that one or more of their unproven youngsters is up to the task of playing in the top flight.
In goal behind them will be Michel Vorm, one of the great under the radar signings of the offseason in the Premiership. Vorm has been the No. 1 goalkeeper at Utrecht in Holland for nearly five years and has represented his country five times at international level. At just £1.5m, his transfer was a bargain and he should make a great No. 1 goalkeeper for Swansea this season.
The Swans' first choice starting XI looks like one that could stay up in the Premier League this season. They've got plenty of quality all over the pitch and they play an attacking, proactive brand of football. However, they are not a deep team and they have multiple players who have suffered from injury issues in the past. If the Swans can stay healthy, they have what it takes to nick 17th place or higher. However, a couple of key injures is all it would take to send Swansea's season down the drain.