Despite losing at Chelsea last week the Black Cats deserved to leave West London with at least a point after another spirited display. A surprise renaissance during December has carried on into January and their performance at Stamford Bridge was a measure of the progress made under O’Neill. Winger James McLean showcased his talents once again last week whilst Stephane Sessegnon posed a constant threat in behind Nicklas Bendtner. New tactics and a new mentality have breathed new life into the club but some tinkering will be needed if they are to beat Swansea. The Welsh clubs midfield pose the biggest danger and O’Neill will be relying on captain Lee Cattermole along with wide men Sebastian Larsson and McLean to upset the Swasn’ possession orientated game. Gaining the upper hand in midfield will give Sunderland the chance to attack a back four that has conceded 19 times in just 10 away games. However they’ll have to start taking their chances if victory is to be achieved.
Brendan Rodgers’ men will be purring after they swept past Arsenal at the Liberty Stadium and will head to Wearside with morale through the roof. Two wins on the trot in 2012 has pushed the Swans into the heady heights of 10th as they continue to startle and stun week after week. The way they kept the ball and rapidly knocked it around the Gunners last Sunday was a joy to behold and much of the praise must go to Rodgers. He has been unwavering in his desire for Swansea to play attractive football and that philosophy continues to pay dividends. Joe Allen and Leon Britton have excelled in the top flight along with Nathan Dyer and all three will be key to ensuring a third straight win against Sunderland. Despite all the positives surrounding their campaign thus far negative aspects still remain with their away record the only blot on their copybook. One win from 10 on the road needs to be improved if they are to maintain their mid-table position and they’ll need to start at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland 12th : 24 points
Last six: L W W D W L
Team news: Long-term injury victims Fraizer Campbell and Craig Gordan are in with a chance of returning whilst Titus Bramble is inline to replace Matt Kilgallon who picked up a knock at Chelsea.
Key Player: Stephane Sessegnon
Another excellent display last week from Sessegnon just goes to show the effect Martin O’Neill has had on him. The playmakers movement and quick feet always make him a threat in behind the striker and he’ll be key to Sunderland’s chances of beating Swansea.
Swansea City 10th : 26 points
Last six: W W D D L D
Team news: Swansea have no new injuries to worry about with Alan Tate and Ferre Bodde out for the season.
Key Player: Joe Allen
Another dynamic performance in the centre of midfield has seen Allen’s stock rise considerably. The midfielder has it all in his locker and will hoping to lead Swansea to a third consecutive win in January.
Sunderland are still riding high despite losing at Chelsea last week and come up against a Swansea side brimming with confidence beating Arsenal. However their form on the road is poor and they might struggle in the North East against O’Neill’s boys.
Score 2- 0