Much was expected of Martin O’Neil’s Sunderland side this season, yet The Black Cats currently are placed in the drop-zone after an awful start.
Their visitors on Tuesday night are Reading, who also have struggled this season and find themselves starting to get cut adrift in the bottom-three.
The match is a re-arranged fixture after the initial game between the two-sides was postponed and both teams will be looking at this match as one to kick-start their season.
The two sides have only met twice in the Premier League era and they haven’t played each-other in the top-tier since 2007. Ross Wallace and Kenwyne Jones’ goals provided them with a 2-1 victory at the Stadium of Light that day and the home fans will be hoping for a similar scoreline this time around.
Martin O’Neil is likely to be without key-man, Steven Fletcher as he still recovers from an ankle injury. Elsewhere Lee Cattermole is sidelined for two months with a knee injury and Wes Brown’s return is still some way off.
Reading are plagued with injuries, with central midfielder Jem Karacan still out. Elsewhere Chris Gunter, Sean Morrison, Pavel Pogrebnyak, Alex McCarthy and Jimmy Kebe are all injured.
Sunderland: Adam Johnson – After signing for Martin O’Neil’s men for a sizable fee from Manchester City in the summer he was expected to be the main-man to provide ammunition for Steven Fletcher, but his early form for his new club has been disappointing. He has only managed to complete 17% of his crosses, on average, so far this year and this is part of the reason for Sunderland’s goal-scoring woes – which has seen them hit the back of the net only six times at home this campaign.
On the other side break-through player of last season James McLean has been equally poor, successfully completing just 13% of his crosses into the box meaning that Steven Fletcher has been left with little service and done well to reach his tally of six goals so far. With the Scottish international striker ruled out through injury, Johnson will need to be on-top form to compensate for the loss of The Black Cat’s main goal-threat and will be hoping that this weekend’s goal against Chelsea can be the spark that he needed to reach top-form.
Reading: Jobi McAnuff – The Reading captain has stated that the team’s confidence remains high despite a poor start to their season since promotion from the Championship. His own performances this campaign have been good, and he leads the club’s assists charts with four, alongside Nicky Shorey. He has completed 49% of his dribbles so far this campaign and created 13 goal-scoring chances for his side and The Royals will be reliant on his creativity and drive. As club captain McAnuff will be looking to lead by example and inspire the rest of his team to pull off what would be an important victory at the Stadium of Light.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-1 Reading
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