Swansea City-Sunderland Preview
LONDON (SE) - Coming off arguably their biggest moment in club history, Swansea City must now focus on the task at hand in the Premier League on Tuesday when they travel to play Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
While both of these teams are comfortably in the middle of the table, the Swansea's two-year run through the top flight reached a historic peak Wednesday. Their 0-0 draw at home against Chelsea in the second leg of their League Cup semifinal secured a 2-0 aggregate victory that earned the Swans a spot in next month's final against League Two side Bradford at Wembley Stadium with a chance to qualify for the Europa League with a victory.
"It was a great performance against Chelsea," defender Angel Rangel told the team's official website. "To keep a clean sheet over two games, with the power they have up front, means a lot to both us and the fans.
"It's a fantastic achievement, we've made history and hopefully we can go to Wembley and lift the trophy."
The Swans (8-9-6) have gone unbeaten in their last six in league play with two wins and four draws to climb to ninth place and also have taken points in five of their last six road matches (3-2-1). Swansea pulled away for a 3-1 victory over Stoke City on Jan. 19, with Jonathan De Guzman netting a second-half brace.
De Guzman has four goals in his last six league starts for the Swans, who are still looking for a second striker to complement Michu, whose team-best 13 goals are fourth in the Premier League.
Sunderland (7-7-9) enter this match seeking a third consecutive league victory to secure their gains made in their climb to mid-table. The Black Cats posted a 3-2 victory at Wigan Athletic on Jan. 19, getting a first-half brace from Steven Fletcher after Craig Gardner converted from the penalty spot to overturn an early deficit.
"Those wins were necessary," manager Martin O'Neill told Sunderland's official website. "Our form has been really good in the league and the most important issue now is to add wins. We'll go into Tuesday's game with great confidence again."
It was Fletcher's second two-goal game of the season - the other came in Sunderland's 2-2 draw versus Swansea City at Liberty Stadium on Sept. 1, when Michu's goal in the 66th minute salvaged a point for the Swans. The Scottish striker has tormented Swansea at the top flight, scoring three goals and one assist in two lifetime matches.
The Black Cats - currently 11th in the Premiership - have won three of four at home and have posted five clean sheets in their 11 matches at the Stadium of Light.
Swansea have two draws and a loss versus Sunderland since reaching the Premier League last season and lost the corresponding fixture 2-0 in the 2011-12 campaign.