(Reuters) - Swansea City’s Premier League trip to Stoke City on Saturday has taken on the importance of a cup final because of the Welsh club’s struggles this season, manager Paul Clement said on Thursday.
Swansea are second-bottom of the league and have not won in their last six games, and with the halfway point of the campaign fast approaching, Clement is aware they are running out of time to save their season.
“I think we need to treat it like a cup final – it’s really important,” Clement told a news conference on Thursday ahead of the match against 16th-placed Stoke.
“We are five games away from halfway through the season and we are on nine points. We have got to try to get as many points as we can before halfway and then we will know exactly what we have to do in the second half of the season.”
Both teams were beaten in midweek with Stoke going down 3-0 at home to Liverpool and Swansea losing 1-0 at champions Chelsea.
Stoke are without a win in four league matches and lost to basement side Crystal Palace before the Liverpool game.
“Stoke are another side who are struggling for a bit of form and this is a game we really have to try to do well in,” Clement said.
On-loan Tammy Abraham, Swansea’s top scorer with four goals, returns after missing the game against his parent club Chelsea and Clement is hoping victory over Stoke can spark a revival in his team’s fortunes like it did last season.
Swansea beat Stoke 2-0 at the Liberty Stadium in April and went on a four-game unbeaten run to rise above the relegation zone and finish 16th.
“That game was a massive turning-point,” Clement said. “That was a critical moment in our season.”
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond