Swansea City's challenging Premier League season assessed

Wayne Routledge celebrates Swansea's third goal against Norwich

Swansea City's 4-1 win over Aston Villa on 26 April finally secured their place in the Premier League for another season.

It came at the end of a traumatic season which saw the Swans fail to recapture the highs of the 2012-13 campaign. BBC Wales football reporter Mark Poyser assesses how they secured a fourth season in football's top flight..

It was always going to be hard to follow one of the most successful seasons in the club's history.

Expectations were sky-high at the Liberty Stadium as the prospect of a European adventure lay ahead after winning the Capital One Cup - the first major trophy in their history.

The club was still basking in the glow of its best league finish for 31 years - ninth - during the summer, when storm clouds began to gather.

In June, Swansea severed ties with manager Laudrup's agent Bayram Tutumlu following a dispute over transfer policy, raising doubts about the Dane's future at the club.

Despite reported interest from clubs across Europe, Laudrup

Swansea then broke its transfer record, splashing out from Dutch top-flight side Vitesse Arnhem, and .

After successfully negotiating two qualifying rounds, the Swans started their Europa League group with an impressive

But they limped through to qualify for the last 32 of the competition

Their Premier League form was also cause for concern with defeat in the first top-flight south Wales derby against Cardiff in November.

The result not only hurt their pride but saw last season's top scorer Michu suffer an ankle injury that would see him play just twice in the three months that followed.

They in December to secure only their second home win of the season in the Premier League.

And Swansea would win just once more in the league under Laudrup's management.

An historic FA Cup win at Old Trafford against simply papered over the cracks.

In January police were called to the club's training ground following reports of a bust-up between defenders Chico Flores and Garry Monk.

The players issued a statement denying there was a rift in the squad.

A few weeks later Laudrup was sacked following the 2-0 defeat at West Ham and Monk was appointed head coach for the "forseeable future."

His arrival brought an immediate impact with victory against bitter rivals Cardiff in Monk's first game in charge and an agonising defeat to Rafa Benitez's Napoli in the Europa League last 32.

However the victory in the South Wales derby would be followed by nine winless matches before the 3-0 win against Norwich eased growing relegation fears by opening up a seven point gap between them and the bottom three.

Even with Premier League safety within touching distance but the Swans could not afford to to be complacent with games running out, especially after their lacklustre performance in a 1-0 loss at Hull and a battling 10-man display ended in a 1-0 home loss to Chelsea.

However, the club confirmed that the build up to the match against Jose Mourinho's side had been disrupted by a "bust-up" between "certain players" during a training session.

The players were able to put their differences to one side before facing struggling Newcastle, and Swansea's 2-1 win there, with Bony scoring at the end of each half, was a huge boost.

And when Jonjo Shelvey had a hand in two goals and scored a spectacular volley from the centre circle as Swansea saw off Aston Villa 4-1 at the Liberty Stadium, it was mission accomplished.

That result, combined with defeats for Norwich at Old Trafford and Cardiff City at Sunderland, means Swansea will be playing in the Premier League for a fourth successive season.

But their season was perhaps best summed up by captain Ashley Williams: "Given the standards we've set over recent years to beat relegation shouldn't really be a celebration," he said.

The only outstanding question now is whether Monk will be in charge when the preparations for the 2014-15 season get under way.

MARK'S PREDICTIONS

HULL (A) - 5, APRIL

Mark's prediction: draw

Result: Hull 1-0 win

CHELSEA (H) - 13, APRIL

Mark's prediction: Swansea loss

Result: Chelsea 1-0 win

NEWCASTLE (A) - 19, APRIL

Mark's prediction: Draw

Result: Swansea 2-1 win

ASTON VILLA (H) - 26, APRIL

Mark's prediction: Swansea win

Result: Swansea 4-1 win

SOUTHAMPTON (H) - 3, MAY

The Saints have been arguably the surprise package of the season and have produced some fantastic football with their English Lions Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Jay Rodriguez and Luke Shaw.

Without the injured Rodriguez against Cardiff though, they looked a little short of ideas in the final third despite their impressive build up play and the Bluebirds were able to limit their chances.

With the Swans now safe after back-to-back wins for the first time this season Garry Monk could do his hopes of landing the manager's job full-time the world of good if he can make it three on the spin

Mark's prediction: Swansea win

SUNDERLAND (A) - 11, MAY

Sunderland looked doomed just a few short weeks ago but have staged a remarkable fightback to put them in contention to avoid the drop.

It will surely all hinge on what they do here on the final day.

Swansea have the opportunity to put them in real trouble if they win and Garry Monk will hope the feel good factor can continue.

I predict the swans will end the season with a point, whether that is enough for Sunderland to stay in the premier league remains to be seen.

Mark's prediction: draw

END OF SEASON TOTAL: 43 points

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