Swansea City Preview (A) - September 1
SUNDERLAND RETURN to Premier League action this Saturday as they visit the Liberty Stadium to take on Michael Laudrup`s high-flying Swansea City.
The Swans are one of the early pace-setters as it were, and currently sit second in the table to Chelsea who have played a game more than them. With two wins from his first two matches in charge of the club, it`s been an ideal start to life in the Premier League for Laudrup.
Forty-eight year-old Laudrup cut his managerial teeth with Danish outfit Brondby in 2002 where he spent four years having assisted with the Danish national side for two years previously. In four years with Brondby, Laudrup won the Danish league title once as well as two Danish cups and two super cups as well as finishing a runner-up in the league on three more occasions.
Success in his homeland saw Laudrup more to La Liga to join Getafe where he spent a season, losing the 2007/08 Copa del rey final. A season with both Spartak Moscow and Real Mallorca followed before the former Juventus, Lazio, Real Madrid and Barcelona midfielder moved to south Wales.
The man who vacated the Swans` hotseat was of course Brendan Rodgers, who moved to Liverpool in a £7m compensation package, taking one of last term`s key players with him in Joe Allen who cost the Reds a whopping £15m.
Another man who looks likely to depart before the Transfer Window closes is flying winger Scott Sinclair. The England U21 international looks highly likely to move to League Champions Manchester City in a deal worth £6.2m to the Swans. How much of an impact the former Chelsea winger will make at the Etihad will be extremely interesting.
The departure of Allen and the probable exit of Sinclair have hardly weakened the Swans who have found a new star in striker Michu. The 26 year-old forward was snapped up from Rayo Vallecano in a £2m deal - a price which already looks a bargain after three goals in his first two matches in England.
Decent spells with Real Oviedo (13 in 100), Celta 'B` (10 in 28), Celta Vigo (15 in 103) and Vallecano (15 in 37), persuaded Laudrup to bring the 6`1 forward to the Libety Stadium, a move which has almost immediately paid dividends.
Laudrup also used his knowledge of La Liga to bring former Valencia winger Pablo Hernandez to the club in a £5.5m switch, making the 27 year-old the club`s record signing in the process.
Hernandez has won four full Spanish caps and will fill the boots of Sinclair assuming he completes his anticipated move to the north west. In over 100 appearances for Valencia, Hernandez has bagged 16 goals from out wide.
Laudrup will enjoy the luxury of a fully-fit squad to pick from and could hand debuts to Hernandez and former Arsenal centre-back, Kyle Bartley.
Martin O`Neill on the other hand will be without the services of Wes Brown (knee), David Vaughan (hernia) and Phil Bardsley (ankle). Kieran Richardson could well have departed for Fulham leaving Jack Colback to fill in at left-back.
Swansea City: Vorm; Rangel, Chico, Williams (c), Taylor; Dyer, de Guzman, Britton, Routledge; Michu; Graham.
Sunderland: Mignolet; Gardner, O`Shea, Cuellar, Colback; Johnson, Cattermole (c), Larsson, McClean; Sessegnon; Fletcher.
Referee: Mr R East.