Swans fly north, but will it go south in Sunderland? Betting Preview
Sunderland's seemingly perennial status as a yo-yo club between the top two flights in England have been somewhat put to bed in recent years as they have looked to improve on their consistent mid-table finishes, but poor form throughout the season has seen them look over their shoulder throughout.
Now, with four wins in six, including a second consecutive home victory over Manchester City, they have created some considerable breathing space between themselves and the danger zone. Of course, continuing that run at home to Swansea on a cold wet Tuesday evening is a different matter, and manager Martin O'Neill will know that, after their aggregate League Cup semi final win over Chelsea, the Swansea will go into Wearside clash on a high.
Having kept three clean sheets at home in the past four matches, the Black Cats will be confident of once remaining strong at the back, and will look to their attack spearheaded by Scottish international Steven Fletcher to produce the goods in front of goal. Amongst a group of nine players who have notched ten goals in this Premier League season, Fletcher is in good company, but faces a loss of supporting players Danny Rose and Lee Cattermole, who play important roles in the Sunderland midfield.
A week removed from the night a ball boy stole the headlines, Swansea have rested having been knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round, and will approach this game at the Stadium of Light, were Sunderland ahve continued to look strong, as a chance to their credentials as a contender for a Europa League spot. A win would lift them seventh, and see them leapfrog Liverpool, who play Wednesday night against Arsenal.
Michael Laudrup has a full strength squad from which to select his team, but is unlikely to consider new loan signing Roland Lamah or transfer target Danny Graham, who has continued to hint at his desire to leave the Liberty Stadium. Whilst Graham contemplates his future, Spanish sensation Michu has put pen to paper and signed a new four year deal for the south Wales club, putting to bed the speculation surrounding him, and a potential move to a 'bigger club'.
The Spaniard has already netted 16 times in the league this season, trailing only Robin van Persie in the hunt for the league's Golden Boot, and whilst he has been dubbed the signing of the season, it doesn't seemed to have affected him. Of course, playing no small role in the striker's success is Swansea dynamic, free-flowing midfield, that has continued to show the creativity and guile that was exhibited in the Swans' first season back in the top flight last year. Nathan Dyer and Leon Britton continue to act as integral cogs in the Swansea set up, and if allowed to run the game in Sunderland, are likely to carve out a Swansea win.
- Sunderland remain unbeaten in their three Premier League meetings with Swansea, winning one (2-0) and drawing two (0-0 and 2-2).
- On their 12 visits to Sunderland in all competitions, the Swans have only ever enjoyed one victory, 1-0 in February 1982 in the old Division One.
- Ki Sung-Yueng (22) has attempted the most shots (excl. blocked) without scoring a goal in the Premier League this season.
- If matches ended at half-time this season, Sunderland would be 4th in the Premier League table, while if only the second half of PL games counted, Swansea would be 5th.
- Steven Fletcher has scored the first goal of the game more often than any other Premier League player this season (6).
- Only seven of Steven Fletcher's 22 Premier League goals since the start of last season have been scored in home matches (32%).
- Fletcher has scored three goals in his previous two Premier League appearances against Swansea, but both of these games have been away. He netted two of these in his Sunderland debut back in September.
- Sunderland have won five of their last eight Premier League games (W5 L3), this after winning just four of their previous 29 (W4 D13 L12).
- The Swans have suffered only two defeats in their last 14 Premier League matches (W5 D7 L2).
- Michu has scored just one goal in his last eight hours and 31 minutes of Premier League football (511 mins). Before this run, he had averaged a goal every 115 mins.
To win: Sunderland 2/1; Draw 2/1; Swansea 6/4
Headline Offers: Steven Fletcher To Score and Sunderland To Win 3/1; Michu To Score and Swansea City To Win 5/1
Best Bet: Swansea to win by one goal 3/1
Worth a Punt: Double Result: Draw/Swansea 11/2