Well it's that time. Time to preview the weekends game against our Welsh neighbours, Swansea City. So with that it's quite fitting that our very own Welshman, Karl Jones, makes his debut here and does the preview for us. I swear to you all, that is pure coincidence.
So with a tough test ahead against Brendan Rogers' "Boyo's" let's see how Karl thinks we're going to get on this weekend, as well as bringing you tunes, betting, team news and more besides...
Aside from Matt Kilgallon's untimely injury against Chelsea, any other changes to the team would be at O'Neill's discretion. Despite a hugely encouraging performance at Stamford Bridge, there seems no real area of concern within the side, but it wouldn't surprise me to see a change or two. Life under our number 31 so far has been far from predictable.
Should we remain unchanged then key to our hopes of maintaining our unbeaten home form under the new manager, I feel, is David Vaughan. The form of Leon Britton for Swansea has been well documented – to the extent that Opta ran a passing stats comparison to Xavi this week. Vaughan occupies a similar role as Sunderland’s central ball-player-in-chief, but where Vaughan has the edge is that he equally adept at winning the ball as he is at keeping it.
The Swans often line up with a central three and Vaughan, sure to be alongside the in-form Lee Cattermole, has characteristics that City looks to pair in its midfield unit. Joe Allen – a fine passer in his own right – is usually found alongside someone more physical (Darren Pratley last season, Kemy Agustien this), but with Vaughan and Cattermole able to do both sides of the game it may just present SAFC with an advantage in a crucial area of the pitch.
It will be interesting, though, to see the make-up of the bench, given the injury to Kilgallon and the plethora of young talent that has made its way out on loan to Football League clubs all over the country.
Swansea City Team News
Fresh off the win over Arsenal, Brendan Rodgers would be forgiven if he were to also stick with the same starting XI in spite of new arrival Josh McEachran and Gylfi Sigurdsson’s impressive debut in the 3-2 win.
At the back, the partnership between Stephen Caulker and Ashley Williams still shows occasional signs of teething – the pair was at odds for Arsenal’s second goal, leaving Theo Walcott huge space to exploit.
Looking at Swansea’s midfield trio that has started its last away game – and only victory on the road in the Premier League this season –Agustien sat alongside Britton and Andrea Orlandi (who was replaced by Allen in that game and in the starting line-up against Arsenal).
Out of the three, you would suspect that Agustien would be the most disposable, enabling Rodgers to select either of his new additions, yet his destructive qualities will be needed to maintain a balanced midfield.
SAFC: Mignolet; Bardsley, Turner, O’Shea, Richardson; Larsson, Cattermole, Vaughan, McClean; Sessegnon; Bendtner
Swansea: Vorm; Rangel, Caulker, Williams, Taylor; Allen, Agustien, Britton; Dyer, Sinclair, Graham
Well, this was difficult. Prior to the league meeting in August the two teams hadn’t met since 1983, and with SAFC having a bit of a rubbish recent history with the Swans, my match for the ages is a 3-0 home victory in the fifth round of the FA Cup - In 1937. Maybe more than significant than classic but a repeat scoreline this weekend would be more than welcome.
Get Rich Quick
So what happens when the counter-attacking force meets the aesthetically pleasing object? As capable as Swansea is at moving the ball it has only scored eight times in 10 games on the road, whilst conceding 19. Sunderland wasted a smorgasbord of chances at Stamford Bridge, but prior to that the Black Cats have been comfort eating at the oppositions net.
Whilst the defeat to Chelsea can be chalked up as an ‘off day’ in front of goal, I think this one may end up a relatively low-scoring affair. With that in mind...
- Sunderland to win by a one goal margin is best-priced 11/4 with Bet365
- David Vaughan at 8/1 to score at any time with Paddy Power represents decent value
- A James McClean first goal, Sunderland to win 1-0 scorecast is priced up at 66/1 with Victor Chandler
Song For Whoever
Straight out of Swansea-based film Twin Town, Sunderland fans will have fond memories of mocking ‘them up the road’ with this one
People may point to Swansea’s away form, and the fact that their sole victory came at the expense of a ramshackle Villa outfit, but it is a team not too dissimilar to SAFC at present; high on confidence, pace in the wide areas, and a real belief in the manager’s itinerary.
With three consecutive home games upcoming, there is a real chance to further our momentum, and that should just tilt it in our favour. Despite my punt on a 1-0 scorecast (it wasn’t my money), with my neck on the line I’ll go Sunderland 2-1 Swansea.
Twitter Users: Remember to get following the newest shining light in the Roker Report team, which you can do at @KarlJones_.