The FourFourTwo Preview: Swansea vs Sunderland

Premier League | Liberty Stadium | Sat 19 Oct | 3pm

Billed as 

Them what pass a lot host Gus Poyet and 11 players. 

The lowdown

“He is the worst person I’ve come across in football,” came the not-so-glowing appraisal of Gus Poyet from former charge Vicente, after the Uruguayan’s departure from Brighton in May. "He is a selfish person, very egocentric. What I think is unacceptable is that the manager makes fun of his players. I’ve seen things here that I have never seen in my career."

SWANSEA FORM

  • So'ton 2-0 Swansea (Prem)
  • Swansea 1-0 St Gallen (EL)
  • Swansea 1-2 Arsenal (Prem)
  • B’ham 3-1 Swansea (LC)
  • Palace 0-2 Swansea (Prem)

SUNDERLAND FORM

  • S'land 1-2 Man Utd (Prem)
  • S'land 1-3 Liverpool (Prem)
  • S'land 2-0 P’boro (LC)
  • WBA 3-0 S'land (Prem)
  • S'land 1-3 Arsenal (Prem)

Some things don’t change, at least on Wearside. If the hiring and swift firing of Paolo Di Canio has taught Sunderland anything (it really hasn’t), it should have been that snapping up an unproven yet volatile upstart should generally be avoided in the Premier League. Sigh. Have it your way. 

Now, though, it’s all about turning around the fortunes of a Sunderland side rooted to the foot of the table with just a point from their opening seven matches. While it’s true they’ve faced Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal in their last four games, the Black Cats have also been humbled by West Brom, Crystal Palace and Fulham. 
 
Swansea, meanwhile, have problems of their own – if not on the same scale. That said, Michael Laudrup’s men have flattered to deceive ever since lifting the League Cup in February. 
 
They’ve outpassed the entire league so far this season, while Michu’s mean streak has finally earned him a Spain cap, but they’ve only won twice. Something will change for the better soon, you would expect – and this looks a good place to start. 

Team news

Swansea’s Ben Davies (hamstring), Jonathan de Guzman (groin) and Pablo Hernandez (hip) should return after recent strains, but captain Ashley Williams (ankle) won’t be back until the end of the month. 
The good news for Sunderland is that Steven Fletcher (shoulder) is in line for a comeback after missing the last two games with injury. 
 
The bad is that Ki Sung-Yeung is ineligible to face his parent club, there’s no hope for Keiren Westwood (shoulder) or Wes Brown (calf) yet, and Phil Bardsley (ankle) should return to contention (arf, arf).  

Key battle: Michu vs Lee Cattermole

Swansea sing when they play to their Spanish sensation’s tune, but goals in the Premier League have proved more difficult to come by this season for the 27-year-old from Oviedo.
 
Playing just off summer signing Wilfried Bony (who hasn’t scored in the league since the opening day), Michu’s movement is a constant threat that goes hand in hand with his signature drives into the box.
 

Against Crystal Palace his persistence earned him a goal, while his received passes all over his opponents' half led to seven shooting opportunities.  

And that’s where Sunderland’s Cattermole comes in, the man who’ll be doing his best to ruffle feathers the only way he knows how: with a rough and ready approach. Against Man United he was regularly dragged wide to deal with Nani and Rafael, but he’ll have enough on his plate dealing with Michu. Stopping the former Rayo Vallecano man could be essential, and that means Adam Johnson and Emanuele Giaccherini will be expected to do their share of donkey work in defence where Wayne Routledge and A.N. Other are concerned. 

LAST FIVE MEETINGS

  • S'land 0-0 Swans (Prem, Jan 13)
  • Swans 2-2 S'land (Prem, Sep 12)
  • S'land 2-0 Swans (Prem, Jan 12)
  • Swans 0-0 S'land (Prem, Aug 11)
  • S'land 1-1 Swans (Div 1, Mar 83)

The managers

Poyet’s achievements on the south coast were good; promotion from League One as champions followed by a crack at the play-offs two seasons later wasn’t bad going. But he couldn’t get Brighton up, and his acrimonious departure left many big questions unanswered. It’s the chance of a fresh start in the North East, and one he must grab onto for dear life if he’s to be taken seriously in the Premier League. 
 
As for Laudrup… nope, we’ve got nothing. But he’s a nice chap. 

Facts and figures

  • Swansea have averaged 493 completed passes per game in the league this season; more than any other side.
  • Sunderland have kept a clean sheet in three of their previous four Premier League games against Swansea.
  • Swansea have currently gone eight successive home games without a win in the Premier League; the longest current run.
  • Michael Laudrup's Swansea side have made fewer substitutions than any other Premier League side this season (15).
  • Swansea City have currently scored 99 goals in the Premier League.
  • Gus Poyet will become the 11th different manager to take charge of a Sunderland match in the Premier League (12, if you include both spells by Kevin Ball). Of those managers, Steve Bruce is the only one to be appointed in the close season.
  • Poyet's Brighton side had the best defence in the 2012/13 Championship, conceding just 43 goals in 46 games.
  • Michu has directly contributed to more shots than any other player in the top flight this term (32, 16 shots, excluding blocked and 16 chances created).
  • Sunderland are only the sixth team in Premier League history to have recorded one (or no) point after seven games; three of the previous five were relegated.
  • Adam Johnson has created more chances without registering an assist than any other Premier League player this season (16).

FourFourTwo prediction

Swansea’s home advantage and, let’s be honest, better team, means they should walk away with all the points from this one. 2-1.  

Swansea vs Sunderland LIVE ANALYSIS with Stats Zone


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