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Swansea fires manager Garry Monk; Hopes to find quick replacement

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Unable to keep momentum from their hot start and having slid down to 15th in the table, Swansea City is parting ways with longtime player and two-year manager Garry Monk.

[ MORE: Hertha wants USMNT’s Brooks signed, or sold ]

It’s no secret that Monk was under pressure, and chairman Huw Jenkins pulled the trigger on Wednesday.

Monk has presided over a lengthy down-turn that has seen just one win in 11 Premier League matches.

From SwanseaCity.net:

Club chairman Huw Jenkins said, “To find ourselves in our current situation from where we were in the first week of September, and considering the drop of performance levels and run of results over the last three months, it has brought us to this unfortunate decision today.”

The club isn’t doing this lightly, highlighting his achievements as the front page story on its site. Jenkins said they want to appoint a replacement as soon as possible, but who?

Could we possibly see the return of Brendan Rodgers to the Liberty Stadium?

Swansea 4-0 Sunderland: Black Cats’ misery continues (video)

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Steven Fletcher, just returned from injury, got things started for Sunderland with a strike off a ball from Adam Johnson, but Michel Vorm barely flinched as the shot went wide of his goal. Sunderland then proceeded to retreat back, not getting in another shot until the second half.

Considering the visitors’ reluctance to attack, it was rather surprising that it took more than thirty minutes for Swansea to threaten Sunderland’s goal. But Jonathan De Guzman’s 30 yard free kick went just wide. Minutes later, Keiren Westwood was forced into a save on a shot from Angel Rangel.

Sunderland came out of the dressing room clearly buoyed by Gus Poyet’s halftime talk. Within seconds, Emanuele Giaccherini had worked his way into the area, sending a lovely ball over to Phil Bardsley. But the Sunderland defender somehow managed to screw his shot horribly wide.

Bardsley’s day soon went from bad to worse. Nathan Dyer floated in a corner for Swansea, and Angel Rangel got his head on it. But it was Bardsley, trying to stop the ball from ending up in the back of Westwood’s net, that got the final touch.

Just a minute later, Swansea had their second — and no controversy over who put this one in either. De Guzman needed just one touch off a ball from Wayne Routledge to send in a screamer from 25 yards out. 2-0, and Sunderland were in deep, deep trouble.

It only got worse for the visitors. Craig Gardner, such a hero last time out against Manchester City, sent Leon Britton flying. A clear penalty, judged referee Craig Pawson, and it was Wilfried Bony that stepped up to the spot, putting the ball into the top left corner. Sorry, Sunderland.

The final blow was struck in the 80th minute. Sunderland’s typically awful defending was showcased as Swansea scored again from a corner. It was Chico this time that got on the end of Dyer’s corner, and his header needed no help from Bardsley.

It was a truly dreadful start for Gus Poyet, and it leaves you wondering: will it even be possible for Sunderland to save themselves this season?

Swansea starting XI: Vorm, Rangel, ChicoAmat, Davies (Taylor 51), Britton, de Guzman, Michu, Dyer, Routledge (Pozuelo 81), Bony (Alvaro 75)

Subs: Tremmel, Tiendalli, Canas, Shelvey,

Goals: Bardsley og 57′, de Guzman 58′, Bony 64′, Chico 80′

Sunderland starting XI: Westwood, Celustka, Bardsley, O’Shea, Roberge, Cattermole, Johnson (Borini 61), Larsson, Gardner, Giaccherini (Colback 61), Fletcher (Altidore 82)

Subs: Dossena, Vaughan, Cuellar, Mannone

Watch Live: Swansea vs. Sunderland (lineups and discuss)

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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.

Swansea starting XI: Vorm, Rangel, Chico, Amat, Davies, Britton, de Guzman, Michu, Dyer, Routledge, Bony

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

Quick Six: Top Premier League storylines from weekend no. 1

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source: Reuters

1. ARSENAL’S CONJURING MEMORIES OF 2011

After Arsenal lost 8-2 at Manchester United on Aug. 28, 2011, Arsène Wegner’s hand was forced. To that point, the Gunners’ boss had been cautions about throwing his recently received Cesc Fábregas/Samir Nasri money at new players, but with his team on one point through three rounds (having been held scoreless in their first two matches), Wenger had to do something. The subsequent ‘panic buys’ of Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker have worked out well for the club.

Perhaps that’s the silver lining Arsenal fans can take out of Saturday’s match, a bitter opener that saw the Gunners lose 3-1 at The Emirates to Aston Villa. Though there’s a small number of Premier League clubs to whom Arsenal can justify losing at home, Villa is not one of them, let alone in the manner they did. Villa scored the match’s last three goals, led for the final half hour, and put more shots on net over the 90 minutes.

If they’re so inclined, Arsenal can hide behind excuses. Laurent Koscielny was sent off, leaving the team short-handed for 23 minutes, while two of Villa’s goals can be attributed to penalty kicks. Those circumstances are unlikely to be replicated next week at Fulham. Still, Wenger would be better served to summon the urgency of Aug. 2011 and throw some money at the problem.

source: Reuters2. MANCHESTER UNITED SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN OVERLOOKED

Barring a Monday night explosion from Manchester City (and with the Sky Blues hosting Newcastle, that could happen), the red side of Manchester will hold the top spot after the Premier League’s opening round. Perhaps that’s only appropriate, given the defending champions had been deprived of the spotlight in the build-up to the season. Though the Red Devils bring back a near-identical squad to the one that ran away with last year’s Premier League, none of your PST writers have them finishing in the top two.

New manager David Moyes has said his club intends on buying, hinting the squad still has weaknesses. Most people point to the midfield as its main point of need, though United’s had the same problems in midfield since Roy Keane left. They’ve still managed to claim silverware since – both at home and abroad.

Saturday was a bucket of cold water for those of us who had dwelt on that weakness. Swansea City — a team that opened last season with two lopsided wins; who drew United on their last visit to the Liberty Stadium — were torn apart by braces from Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck. Although Swansea’s poor play contributed to that results, United’s firepower means they’ll be capable of this kind of result.

source: Reuters3. MOURINHO’S RETURN MORE ‘DECENT’ THAN ‘SPECIAL’

If we learned anything about Chelsea from match one, it’s that they had an easy start. Hull City, roundly picked to resume a place in the Championship, failed to provide a challenge. The Blues dominated for a half hour, built a 2-0 league, then clicked it into cruise. We’ll have to wait for stiffer competition before passing judgment on the Blues.

There were hints, however, of what we could expect from Mourinho’s second term, including in the way Chelsea cruised. Perhaps the team didn’t pile on goals as Mourinho’s Real Madrid might have, but team’s return to a belligerent pragmatism that won two Premier League crowns will be welcome by some. Frank Lampard, despite having a penalty kick saved, lent credence to the notion his effectiveness will be prolonged by his reunion with Mourinho, while the Blues’ three substitutes (André Schurrle, Romelu Lukaku, Marco van Ginkel) confirmed new blood will play a key part.

Hull’s limited performance never gave Chelsea a chance to truly convince, but there were still things to learn from the Special One’s return.

source: Reuters4. PROMOTED SIDES SHOW LITTLE LIFE IN TOP FLIGHT RETURNS

Hull weren’t the only promoted side to disappoint. Crystal Palace, picked 20th by so many coming into the season, were able to keep the score close, their 1-0 loss to visiting Spurs disguising the fact Tottenham controlled the game. Cardiff City, winners of last year’s Championship, fell 2-0 at West Ham United.

Underdogs in each match, it’s no surprise all three Premier League newbies lost, yet their inability is still concerning. Out-shot by a combined 59-24 (13-6, shots on goal), the trio of neophytes seem to lack a Norwich City or Southampton – two promoted sides who managed to stay up last season. While recent signings from Cardiff and Hull may soon change their teams’ outlooks (and it is far too early to condemn any of the new clubs), matchday one was a grim reminder of how far the new teams have to go.

source: Getty Images5. PENALTY KICK GRACE PRESERVES RESULTS

Liverpool’s Saturday win over Stoke recalled the good and bad of last year: strong play; at times not reflected in the score; sometimes leaving matches to be stolen by lesser teams. Thanks to Simon Mignolet’s 89th minute save on Jon Walter’s penalty kick, Daniel Sturridge’s first half opener held up, giving the Reds the 1-0 win they probably deserved.

But penalty kick grace was also evident at The Hawthorns, where West Brom nearly held on for a 0-0 with Southampton before Ricky Lambert converted in the 90th minute, giving a Saints team that had been the ever-so-slightly better side an ever-so-slightly better result. And in South London, Roberto Soldado’s early second half conversion assured Spurs a result to mirror their control.

source: Getty Images6. SUNDERLAND AS IMPRESSIVE ON GRASS AS ON PAPER

Going into Saturday’s match, the on-paper Black Cats’ didn’t look too impressive, but given the club that survived last year’s Premier League, it was easy to look at the additions of Jozy Altidore, Emmanuel Giaccherini, Cabral, Valentin Roberge, and Ondrej Celustka and see an improved team, overlooking the possibility they may still be inferior to their competition.

Saturday reinforced the notion this team’s facing significant obstacles. Against another flawed side (Fulham), the Black Cats lost at the Stadium of Light , putting only three shots on goal. They did out-shoot Fulham 21-5 and held 57 percent of the ball, but given nine of those shots came after the 52nd minute (when the Pajtim Kasami’s goal gave Fulham incentive to change their approach), Sunderland should lament the result rather than dwell on the circumstances.