On November 10th, high flying Manchester City travel to the Stadium of Light to face lowly Sunderland. After hitting Norwich City for seven goals, City will hope to continue their rampant goal scoring form against second from bottom Sunderland. Sunderland will hope to start their climb away from the bottom and getting anything from this game against City would be a huge result.
Sunderland are nearly injury free while Manchester City do have a few injuries to some key players. Sunderland’s only injury is to Irish goalkeeper Kieren Westwood. After missing the last League game vs Hull and their midweek Capital One Cup game vs Southampton, it will be a late decision whether Westwood comes back into the side or whether Vito Mannone will continue to deputise. Fernandinho and David Silva both picked up injuries in City’s midweek game versus CSKA Moscow and are doubts for the game on Sunday. Javi Garcia is another player that is a doubt for the Sunderland game. City will also be missing stalwart Vincent Kompany and Stevan Jovetic who will both be out until after the international break.
Both teams had midweek ties with Manchester City staying at home to take on CSKA Moscow in the Champions League and Sunderland also staying at home to take on Southampton in the Capital One Cup. Manchester City kept up their great goal scoring form knocking five past their Russian counterparts with a final scoreline of 5-2 which included an Alvaro Negrado hat trick and two more Sergio Aguero goals. Sunderland grabbed a 2-1 victory against Southampton in their Capital One Cup match. That makes it two wins in their last three matches for Sunderland and new boss Gus Poyet will hope they can build on that.
Sunderland have been a bit of a bogey team over the last two years, despite how good Manchester City have been. The last three meetings between the teams at the Stadium of Light have ended 1-0 to Sunderland. Sunderland have actually been able to take a surprising seven out of the last 12 possible points off of City. The last time City were able to take three points off of Sunderland at the Stadium of Light was August 31st 2008. Since Sunderland came back up to the Premier League in the 2007/2008 season, City have only been able to take seven out of a possible eighteen points away to Sunderland.
Sergio Aguero has been in ridiculous form so far this season, specifically in the last few weeks. Aguero has scored in eight out of his last nine games in all competitions. Aguero has scored a goal every 85 minutes in Premier League play this season. Aguero has taken a shot every 28 minutes and 71% shot accuracy. When Aguero gets in front of goal he has been clinical this season converting 33% of his chances. Aguero’s form this season has been unreal. His chance conversion, shot accuracy, and goals per minute stats have been better than in 2011/2012, when City won the title. Aguero is a world class player and is trying to get himself at least in the conversation for top five strikers on the world this season after a season that was not quite up to his standards. No matter how Sunderland play, Aguero has the sheer class to take the game by the scruff of the neck and win it with some individual brilliance.
Steven Fletcher was Sunderland’s leading goalscorer last season despite missing the last eight games of the season. Fletcher is currently joint top scorer for Sunderland with two goals this season again despite missing time with injury. Fletcher has been hurt by the lack of service provided by the Sunderland team that has been pretty poor overall this season. Fletcher’s chance conversion rate is actually equal to Aguero’s (33%) but is only attempting a shot every 78 minutes. With Sunderland’s lack of service the entire Sunderland side has struggled but Fletcher has shown his quality by converting at a high rate. Scoring wise, he has been much better at overcoming the lack of service than his strike partner, Jose Altidore, has. While City’s defense has struggled on the road this season, Sunderland may only get a handful of chances and taking those will be key if Sunderland are to take anything from the game.
While many do expect Manchester City will walk the game, I expect a tough game for the boys from Manchester. City’s away form this season has been poor and they will go to a place they have struggled at. City’s home form and away form have been like night and day this season and with City only coming away with four points from their first 15 available on the road you can’t always expect a win from them. While City have been so poor away, Sunderland have just been poor overall with only four points from 10 games. I do believe City will come away with three points but it will be a tight game where City will sweat a little at the end.
Prediction: 2-1 City