Sunderland-Swansea City Preview

JEFF FLETCHER (STATS European Editor)
The Associated Press

Swansea and Sunderland will be eager to build on much-needed recent victories as they go head-to-head at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.

The Swans (9-6-8) are currently ninth in the Premier League on 33 points from 23 matches and secured their first victory in five top-flight matches as they won 1-0 at Southampton last weekend. Midfielder Jonjo Shelvey scored the winner with a stunning long-range strike seven minutes from time.

Garry Monk celebrated one year in charge of Swansea earlier this week, and club captain Ashley Williams has hailed the impact the 35-year-old Englishman has made at the Liberty Stadium.

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"He's done a brilliant job," central defender Williams told his cub's website. "He came in and steadied the team straight away, and this year he's put his own stamp on the team. So far we've got our joint best return in terms of points at this stage of the season in the Premier League, so that goes to show how good a job he has done.

"The way we've gone about it – the football we have played - has been very satisfying. We've always been in the top half of the league, so I hope people appreciate the work he does and the way he prepares us for games."

Sunderland (4-11-8) ended a five-match winless streak in the Premier League as they beat Burnley 2-0 at the Stadium of Light last weekend, with Connor Wickham and new signing Jermain Defoe scoring the goals.

Gus Poyet's side followed up their win against the Potters by rallying from a goal down to beat Fulham 3-1 in an FA Cup replay at Craven Cottage on Tuesday.

Fulham goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli gifted Sunderland the equaliser when he fumbled Patrick van Aanholt's cross over his own goal line before Ricardo Alvarez blasted the Black Cats in front. Jordi Gomez converted a late penalty to secure victory on the night and a place in the fifth round for Wearsiders.

Head coach Poyet hailed his side's performance against Fulham.

"I'm delighted with the way we played," Poyet said after match. "I really enjoyed watching us and we played well, really good passing football.

"I'm very happy for Ricky Alvarez, him and all of the players did very well tonight. I was waiting for the right game for him to come in and we chose this one to give him the opportunity to show everyone what he is capable of – his goal was outstanding - he's a happy boy in the dressing room which is good for us.

The Swans will have Kyle Bartley available after suspension but Gylfi Sigurdsson is still banned following his sending off in the 3-1 FA Cup defeat at Blackburn. Wayne Routledge and Marvis Emnes are both sidelined through injury.

The Black Cats will be without Lee Cattermole due to groin and knee problems and Wickham with a calf injury, while Jack Rodwell and Adam Johnson are doubtful starters.

Sunderland and Swansea played out a goalless draw at the Stadium of Light in late September. The two teams combined to attempt 23 shots, but only hit a combined four on target. The Swans finished the match with 10 men after Angel Rangel was sent off nine minutes from time following a second yellow card.

These sides have drawn four of the seven Premier League meetings, with Swansea winning twice and Sunderland only once.

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