Swansea's Andre Ayew looks to join brother Jordan in EPL
Swansea's Andre Ayew has seen his younger brother Jordan enjoy a fine start to the current Premier League season with Crystal Palace, and will be looking to advance his club to the same level with a win against Barnsley this weekend.
The eldest Ayew was the trailblazer for his family in the English top flight when he first went to the Swans in 2015, and if the Welsh side can continue their strong form, then a return to the elite division will be within their grasp.
Buying into Cooper's vision
Andre was not expected to remain a Swansea player this season and was strongly linked with a move away from the Liberty Stadium, having spent all of the previous season out on loan at Turkish club Fenerbahce.
In early September, when the Ghanaian committed himself to staying with the Swans, he admitted that he "had a number of offers from some major clubs abroad" but had fully bought into manager Steve Cooper's plan to get the club promoted.
He added: "The fans have also been amazing with the reception they have given me and I'm really looking forward to repaying the faith they have shown in me."
So far Ayew has done exactly that: his nine appearances in the Championship have brought two goals and three assists, helping his club to fourth place on the standings and just one point behind leaders West Brom.
Playing predominantly on the right of an attacking midfield trio, behind Borja Baston, Ayew provides pace, trickery and an extra goal threat, with his average of 2.3 shots per game bettered only by the Spanish striker.
With the Ghanaian combining with the likes of Baston, Yan Dhanda and Bersant Celina, the Swans have had the potency in attack to balance out their strong defence (just nine goals conceded, a record bettered only by Leeds United so far) and put together a fine campaign thus far.
"We're still in it; we're only a point away from the leaders," Ayew told his club's official website. "We always need to be ready for any challenge that the Championship brings.
"We've done great things this season and some that aren't so great. But what we're doing at the moment is good and we need to continue that."
This weekend Ayew and Swansea head to South Yorkshire for a clash with second-from-bottom Barnsley on Saturday, looking to keep themselves in the promotion zone, while a win could be enough to send them top of the standings, depending on results elsewhere.
A positive result at Barnsley would be another step toward Ayew's ambition of joining his younger sibling in the top flight, and a further vindication of his decision to remain with Swansea and take the hard road back to the Premier League.
Kachunga and Huddersfield out to maintain momentum
Before Ayew and Swansea are in action on Saturday afternoon, the early match of the day takes place at Ewood Park. Huddersfield Town are looking to maintain the momentum they have built up under new coach Danny Cowley when they take on hosts Blackburn Rovers (live on ESPN from 13:25 CAT).
The Terriers are chasing a hat-trick of wins (after overcoming Stoke City and Hull City prior to the international break) and DR Congo attacker Elias Kachunga has come into his own under the team's new leadership, scoring his first goal of the season in a 3-0 win over the Tigers on Oct. 5.
Rovers have stuttered of late (three matches without a win) and Kachunga will look forward to testing out a defence which shipped four goals to Queens Park Rangers in Blackburn's most recent outing.
ESPN's offerings for this weekend's Championship action also include Cardiff City at home to Sheffield Wednesday on Friday, in a battle of two teams looking to lift themselves toward the promotion playoff slots, while Sunday sees an in-form Nottingham Forest head to the DW Stadium to face hosts Wigan Athletic.
Forest have a strong African influence in midfield -- Alfa Semedo, Samba Sow and Albert Adomah have a combined 28 appearances and three goals this season -- and their hopes of bossing the 'engine room' have been boosted by the absence of Egypt international and Latics club captain Sam Morsy, who is suspended for an accumulation of yellow cards.
Watch live on ESPN this weekend (All times CAT):
Friday Oct. 18
8:45 p.m.: Cardiff City vs. Sheffield Wednesday
Saturday Oct. 19
1:30 p.m.: Blackburn Rovers vs. Huddersfield Town
4:00 p.m.: Barnsley vs. Swansea City
Sunday Oct. 20
3:00 p.m.: Wigan Athletic vs. Nottingham Forest