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Sunderland-Swansea City Preview

AP - Sports

Gus Poyet will take charge of Sunderland Athletic for the first time as his new side play Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Sunderland (0-1-6) picked up just a single point amidst the turmoil of the opening five games under Paolo Di Canio, and lost tricky fixtures against Liverpool and Manchester United under caretaker manager Kevin Ball. However, the departure of their controversial Italian manager and the arrival of a new boss and philosophy has led to a feeling of optimism around the Sunderland squad.

"I need to address the problems quickly," said Poyet. "We, the team, need to get better and pick up points. The sooner we get that first league win the better.

"It's my job to have very good communication with the players and for them to understand the way we need them to play football. There has to be good understanding and trust. For a player, if you have a manager at the start of the season, then an interim manager for two weeks and then a new one, it is never easy. They have been getting different information from different people.

"I just ask them to believe and be really open-minded in the beginning. They need to take it on board and to take it on board very quickly. Those who do it quickest stand a greater chance of playing."

Michael Laudrup's Swansea (2-1-4) are concerned by their slow start to the season, but have had a tough run of fixtures - including meetings with Manchester United, Tottenham, Liverpool, Arsenal and in-form Southampton. Ahead of a crunch week both domestically and in Europa League, Laudrup targeted wins in all three matches at the Liberty Stadium.

"For me this is a huge week for us," said Laudrup. "We have three home games in eight days, and we need to win at home. But it won't be easy. Sunderland have some very good players in their squad, and we will respect them. They have a new manager and they will want to do their best and show him that they should be starting.

"If we can get two good results in the league, and a win on Thursday, we will sit comfortably in the table and have one foot in the knockout stages of the Europa League. It will mean a lot for us and the confidence that it will bring. But we need to win."

Swansea have injury doubts over Leon Britton (calf), Michel Vorm (wrist), Ben Davies (hamstring), Jonathan De Guzman (groin), Garry Monk (knee) and Pablo Hernandez (hip), while Ashley Williams is out with an ankle problem. Sunderland have doubts over Keiren Westwood (shoulder), Steven Fletcher (shoulder), Wes Brown (calf) and Phil Bardsley (ankle).

Both meetings between these sides ended as draws last season. Swansea outshot Sunderland 29-7 over the two matches, but couldn't force a win on either occasion. Sunderland's only two shots on target against Swansea in their last two meetings both resulted in goals. The Swans have failed to score in three of their four meetings with Sunderland over the last two seasons.

Laudrup's side haven't won any of their last eight home league matches - a run that stretches back to March of last season - and have scored just five goals in those matches, conceding 15.

Sunderland have picked up just four points from their last 10 away matches in the Premier League and are one of only two teams in the top-flight yet to keep a clean sheet this season.

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