The Stadium of Light welcomes league leaders Manchester City in a game which could see the Citizens restore a three point gap between themselves and second placed rivals Manchester United.
After the set back against Chelsea, successive victories seemed to indicate that Roberto Mancini’s side has what it takes to bounce back from adversity – but as the draw againt West Bromwich Albion proved, there are no easy wins in this league and anything can happen in 90 minutes. Just ask Sir Alex Ferguson.
MON was full of praise for today’s opponents, stating: ‘Manchester City have taken it even to another level at the moment, and really, while these are the rules applying to the game, good luck to them.
‘They are a really, really top quality side and they have got strength in depth to go with it, which is very, very important these days.’
Sunderland Team News:
Sunderland have been racking up injuries like it’s in fashion. Phil Bardsley, Titus Bramble, Kieran Richardson, Connor Wickham, Fraiser Campbell, Craig Gordon and Simon Mignolet are all out for The Black Cats, providing MON with a defensive crisis on his hands.
Player to watch: Sebastian Larsson
The 26-year-old Swede was even linked with City before moving to Sunderland from relegated midlands side Birmingham City. If that isn’t a testament to his quality then I don’t know what is.
The winger is an exciting proposition and can score some fantastic goals at times. He is one of those players that will pop up with an absolute stunner to change the game.
If he is in form today, City will struggle to keep him under control – especially with the likes of Aleksandar Kolorov marking him.
Manchester City Team News:
No news is good news when injury’s are concerned. The only considerations Mancini will have to make are for the vital Liverpool clash 48 hours later. Shuffling the pack has been a crucial element to City’s challenge this season, keeping players fresh and injury free for the most part.
Player to watch: Edin Dzeko
Dzeko is just the man City need if they are to penetrate ‘backs to the wall’ game plans. They sorely missed a target man against West Brom and I believe Mancini will recognise this fact and plump for the huge Bosnian.
Dzeko has been somewhat unlucky not to start more games. The fluidity of play when the likes of Aguero has been in the side means that he has had to bide him time – much like Nigel de Jong.
Match Facts & Stats
While Sunderland may just park the bus ala West Brom last week, I don’t believe that they are as drilled and disciplined as Roy Hodgeson’s side. Although Martin O’Neill coming in has given Sunderland a lift, there is no escaping the fact that this year, they just arn’t very good. Defensively, the arrivals of experienced former United ‘stars’ John O’Shea and Wes Brown has added very little. There was a good reason they didn’t start every week at Old Trafford. Midfield is Sunderland’s only real saving grace, but this is an area of the field in which City tend to dominate. If The Black Cats hope to get anything from this game, they will stick 11 men behind the ball and hope for a bit of luck. Unfortunately, I think they will need more than luck to save them today. Sunderland 0-2 Manchester City
Premier league: Home to Liverpool on Tuesday 3rd January @ 8pm.