Our football writer previews the English Premier League clash between Swansea City and Sunderland.
One gets the impression that recent events have tailored this as more of a must win for Bob Bradley. He hasn’t quite found the right balance yet between offence and defence. Ok, all playfully anti-US sentiment aside, Swansea are in a desperate situation at present.
Fans have soon forgotten that surrealistic 5-4 victory over Crystal Place, with that 5-0 defeat to Spurs, relegating them to nine goals conceded in just two games. Outside of poor Gylfi Sigurdsson, who is going to elevate this side?
Tyne side and David Moyes will scarcely be believing the form his team have shown. Three wins from four matches is only one part of the story. They actually dominated the game against Leicester. It will be interesting to see what approach the phlegmatic Scot takes going to a clearly vulnerable Swansea side this weekend.
English Premier League | Saturday 10 December | Liberty Stadium | 17:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Swansea 11/10 | Draw 49/20 | Sunderland 49/20
Bradley’s side just have no identity. They play with a rough-spun 4-3-3 formation that seems largely reactionary. I think the delirium surrounding Palace’s defence was more conducive to that 5-4 result that anything else. And you can put your house keys on the fact that Sunderland will not give away the type of aerially soft goals that Palace did.
I think that Bradley has to utilise the pace of Jefferson Montero out left. That’s one area where they could dominate Sunderland. Billy Jones is hardly a flyer and will feel the pressure from Montero. Sigurdsson will drift menacingly in his manner, but he needs some support up front, in the manner that Victor Anichebe has come to the fore in aid of Jermain Defoe.
Modou Barrow has been largely disappointing while their midfield area is very workmanlike. And by workmanlike, I mean the type of workman you never hire again because they created more problems than solutions.
Leroy Fer is a bit of a mystery. He will pop up with the odd goal from midfield and has played several times for the Dutch side, but I’m not quite sure what type of role Bradley wants him to play. There is such an absence of definition to their game that it’s hard to even try to speculate over them. Swansea's best hope is that Sigurdsson can weave some magic while the home support gets behind them.
You have to admire the way David Moyes has gone about resuscitating the hopes of this team. He has identified their defensive frailties and tried to instil a greater sense of individual responsibility.
You can see that in the far more pragmatic performances of Patrick van Aanholt. He was always a dynamic presence bombing down that left flank, but often let his defensive responsibilities suffer. Moyes also has to be grateful for the heroic performances of young Jordan Pickford, a young English number one in the making.
Defoe’s goals will prove crucial to their chance of success. What does Moyes do? He gives the English forward support by essentially resurrecting the career of Anichebe and allowing Defoe to feed off him. I think that Sunderland will actually go for this one.
Moyes will know that there will be very few opportunities to go on the road to a side so crestfallen. Their direct style will unsettle Swansea, and I suspect that Anichebe is going to dominate their fragile center-halves.
Verdict: Sunderland Win (49/20)
Most will probably opt for the sanctuary of the draw. Swansea had a mega performance last time out at home and Moyes is pragmatic to a fault. But my gut tells me that there can only be one winner here. Back Sunderland to come away with maximum points.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets