Revealed: Swindon's game plan to try and beat Sunderland - and the key weakness Phil Parkinson can exploit

Sunderland will put their unbeaten record on the line as they head to Swindon Town this afternoon – and we’ve got the inside track on the Robins’ plans for the game
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With both teams seeing their options depleted due to injuries, it promises to be an intriguing contest at the County Ground.

And ahead of the game, we caught-up with Swindon Advertiser reporter Jonathan Leighfield to find out more about the Robins, their weakness and the game plan they’ll employ to try and beat the Black Cats:

Q: How have Swindon started the season, performance-wise?

Swindon manager Richie WellensSwindon manager Richie Wellens
Swindon manager Richie Wellens
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JL: It’s been a real mixed bag so far, with a couple of near perfect home performances against Rochdale and Burton followed up by a real underwhelming showing in a defeat to AFC Wimbledon.

Away from home, the story has been far less positive – a dreadful performance away at Blackpool resulted in a 2-0 defeat, and most would argue it could and should have been far worse, prior to a sparkling first half an hour against Peterborough that preceded a woeful second half.

Q: What sort of game plan will Swindon implement?

JL: Swindon Town manager Richie Wellens is fairly limited with his options at the moment.

He is badly struggling with injuries and as such, Town really only have one system that works right now – that’s a 4-2-3-1 formation.

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They will continue to play short, quick passes in between the lines and try to hurt Sunderland down the sides.

Q: What is the biggest weakness in the squad that Sunderland could take advantage of?

JL: The defence. Town have conceded 19 goals in eight games this season, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out where the team’s problems lie. Swindon also brought in Manchester United under-23 goalkeeper Matej Kovar as their number one this season, and he has started quite poorly, letting in several goals at his near post. He is in need of a confidence boost, and has a long way to go to establish himself as a reliable stopper.

Q: Who is Swindon's biggest dangerman?

JL: If he is in the mood, Diallang Jaiyesimi is capable of winning games on his own. The winger will no doubt be playing at a higher level sooner rather than later, so most supporters were delighted to see him turn his loan move from Norwich City into a permanent one when his contract ran out at Carrow Road in the summer.

Also, Arsenal loanee Matt Smith has shown tremendous maturity since joining the club – his passing is top notch and has shown terrific fight so far this season.

Q: What do you believe the score will be?

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JL: 3-3. Swindon cannot keep the ball out of the net right now, but they are also well capable of rising to the occasion when a big club rolls into town, so I’m hoping we’re in for a thriller at the County Ground.

We’ll be bringing you live coverage from the County Ground, with our team of Phil Smith and Mark Donnelly bringing you coverage throughout the day.

Our live blog will be up-and-running from Noon, with analysis, reaction and insight to follow.

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