Oct 19, 2013, 9:22 AM EDT
It may be early in the season, but Sunderland are already fighting a relegation battle and absolutely must get a result at Liberty Stadium today (10 am ET, watch live online via NBC Sports Live Extra). Swansea, for their part, are above the drop zone thanks to a combination of goal difference and goals scored.
It’s the first match in charge of Sunderland for Gus Poyet, and boy does he have a tough task on his hands. The Black Cats have just one point this season, earned against Southampton, and have lost their last five straight. After sacking Paolo Di Canio, Sunderland very nearly caused a huge upset against Manchester United last time out, with Craig Gardner scoring the opener within five minutes. But we all know the sad ending to the tale: Sunderland’s leaky defense was ripped apart by Adnan Januzaj, and now they can boast of having let in 16 goals in seven games. But with the return of Steven Fletcher today, they may at least have a chance to put a goal or two in the back of the net. That means Jozy Altidore drops to the bench for the visit to Wales.
The Swans, meanwhile, really need to get their act together, starting with getting three points at home, a feat they haven’t accomplished since March. It’ll be Michu, of course, that Swansea will look to in order to get the attack flowing, but they’ll also be hoping Wilfried Bony can add to his league scoring tally. The hosts welcome back Jonathan de Guzman and Leon Britton, with Jose Canas and Jonjo Shelvey making way.
Subs: Tremmel, Taylor, Tiendalli, Canas, Shelvey, Pozuelo, Vazquez
Sunderland starting XI: Westwood, Celustka, Bardsley, O’Shea, Roberge, Cattermole, Johnson, Larsson, Gardner, Giaccherini, Fletcher
Subs: Dossena, Colback, Vaughan, Altidore, Cuellar, Borini, Mannone
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