In the last set of fixtures for this season, Sunderland welcome Swansea City to the Stadium of Light to what will be a great atmosphere after the Black Cats pulled off arguably one of the greatest escapes in Premier League history.
After being written off a little over a month ago, Gus Poyet’s men incredibly secured safety which one game to go, an effort applauded by most football fans in the country. Swansea had been one of the teams in the mix for relegation but two wins in their last three games has secured their place in the elite league for another season. Garry Monk has subsequently been rewarded with the permanent managerial role at the club this week.
After being bottom of the table with six games to go, Sunderland were seven points behind Norwich who occupied 17th place. Since then, their last five games have yielded wins against Chelsea and Man Utd away from home as well as a draw at the Etihad against Man City. This coupled with victories against relegation rivals Cardiff and West Brom has given them 13 points from five matches, a run which only the most optimistic of Sunderland fans would’ve predicted. Remarkably, they go into the match in 14th place, and can finish as high as 12th, which regardless will be remembered as one of Sunderland’s and Poyet’s finest achievements.
Swansea looked to be in serious trouble after losing to Chelsea a few weeks ago. That result left the Swans in 15th place but just three points of Fulham who were in 18th. Their next result was arguably their post important of the season as a 90th minute penalty from Bony helped his team to a crucial 2-1 win away to Newcastle. That was followed by a 4-1 victory against Aston Villa which along with other results going their way, all but secured their status. Their European adventure has had an effect on Swansea’s league form but Monk and co will be relieved that they have come through it and will go into the match against Sunderland aiming to finish on a high.
Swansea ran out comfortable winners in the last encounter between the two sides in mid October with former manager Michael Laudrup in charge of the Swans. It was in fact Gus Poyet’s first game in charge of Sunderland and although he did not get off to the greatest of starts, he will appreciate how far his team have come in his time at the club. Goals from De Guzman and Bony as well as own goals from Bardsley and Fletcher gave Swansea an emphatic 4-0 score line on the day.
Lee Cattermole should be fit after picking up a knock during the week. Ki Sung-Yeung (Knee), Steven Fletcher (Foot), Kieran Westwood (Shoulder) are all out of action and Carlos Cuellar (Hamstring) is doubtful for the match. Sunderland have started the last five games with the same team and Poyet will have no reason to change his in-form first 11.
Chico Flores is likely to return after returning from a foot injury which kept him out of the defeat to Southampton. Angel Rangel (Groin) and Michu (Foot) will both miss the last game of the season however with injuries.
- Swansea have not lost in the last three meetings between the two teams.
- Sunderland have gained more points in their last five matches than they did in the 14 matches previously.
- Sunderland have won five games in a row only once in the Premier League. This came in October of the 1999-2000 season.
- Wilfried Bony has scored five in his last five away games for Swansea.
Sunderland: Jack Colback
Jack Colback will go into this match filled with confidence as will the rest of his team after scoring one of the goals to help Sunderland to avoid relegation with the win on Wednesday against West Brom. The goal doubles his tally for the season with his other goal coming against fierce rivals Newcastle and has been an unsung hero in Sunderland’s effort to stay in the league with his defensive minded approach in midfield. His work rate has been impressive and has won 54% of 217 ground duels as well as winning back possession for his team every 17 minutes. The 24 year-old has been good on the ball with a passing accuracy of 89% from his 904 passes this season. Having been instrumental in the last few matches for Sunderland, him as well as the rest of his team mates will want to put in a good shift to end a dramatic in good fashion.
Swansea: Jonathan De Guzman
Jonathan De Guzman has been one of Swansea’s key players in their first season involving both Premier League and European football. The midfielder has played a vital role in matches that Swansea have won this season and can definitely make a impact when on the pitch with his passing, creativity and goal scoring threat. Creatively De Guzman has created 51 chances in total with three of those being assists. De Guzman managed four goals to his name with a shot accuracy of 46% from his 50 shots in total. His passing accuracy has, like Colback, been superb with 88% of his 1741 passes made being accurate which is one of the best in the league from players who have made 1500 passes or more this season.
Sunderland are arguably the form team in the league right now along with champions elect Man City and its hard to go against a home win for this game. In midweek, Sunderland only needed a draw to confirm safety but they went out with intent and dominated the whole game and I won’t be surprised if they do it again here.