Sunderland travel to Villa Park on Saturday sitting in bottom place in the Premier League but with six points separating 13th and 20th in the table, Sunderland will want to stay in touching distance with the teams around them, and give themselves the best chance of survival. Positive results in games like these will prove crucial come the end of the season. Aston Villa will hope to improve their home record with only six points won during six home games so far but will hope to build on their last home win against Cardiff which finished 2-0.
The Black Cats are hoping to bounce back from defeat against Stoke City last week, in which a baffling decision from referee Kevin Friend caused them to go down to 10 men and consequentially lose the game 2-0. Although Sunderland have lost five consecutive away matches, Gus Poyet is slowly getting the team to play to his style after a terrible start to the season, but having won three of their last five in all competitions, he will want to pick up some sort of momentum going into a vital Christmas period. Villa will be quietly satisfied with recent results having not lost in their last 3, and having come from 2-0 down in the Midlands derby away to West Brom to finish the match 2-2, they will hope to reproduce their second half performance for the full game against Sunderland.
The recent head-to-head results between these two sides have been greatly in Villa’s favour. Unbeaten in the last four against Sunderland, the last time they met at Villa Park ended in a hammering with Paul Lambert’s side running out 6-1 winners with Christian Benteke notching a hat-trick.
Villa have Weimann, Delph and Agbonlahor available now after all three came on against West Brom after returning from injuries and will all be vying for place in the first 11. Gardner and N’Zogbia are still sidelined but apart from that Paul Lambert has no major issues.
Sunderland have Andrea Dossena and Lee Cattermole available after both served three match suspensions for red cards against Hull City. Wes Brown is also free to play after having his red card against Stoke City rescinded following an appeal and will not have to serve any kind of suspension. However, Kieran Westwood is injured so he will be replaced by Vito Mannone.
Possible Team Line-Ups
- Aston Villa did the double over Sunderland last season and Villa delivered a 6-1 thrashing to Sunderland with Christian Benteke scoring a second half hat trick in this fixture last year.
- Aston Villa haven’t lost any of the last four meetings home and away, winning twice and drawing twice.
- Since 2000, Sunderland have won just 4 of the 20 meetings between the two sides, losing on eight occasion and also drawing eight times.
Aston Villa: Andreas Weimann
After being out injured for the last few games, Andreas Weimann made his return against West Brom coming off the bench to get an assist. Now that he is fully fit again he is likely to gain his place back in the Aston Villa side and if so will definitely be a player to watch out for. He hasn’t been as big an influence this season and also hasn’t managed to take his chances only scoring once in 32 shots at goal, so this is a game where he can definitely show how good he actually is and get his season back on track in order to replicate his performances from the last campaign.
Sunderland: Steven Fletcher
Fletcher was top scorer for Sunderland last season but hasn’t managed to find that same clinical nature this season only scoring twice for Sunderland in the 8 games he has played. Just like Weimann, he has also been out with injury for part of the season, missing 4 games so far. However, Sunderland haven’t been able to win any of the games in which he has been absent which shows his importance to the team. The Black Cats have only managed to score 8 goals so far, which is the second least in the league this season, so if Sunderland are to get on the score sheet, Fletcher must be playing at his best and start playing like the clinical striker that we all know he is.
Sunderland will have to put in a top performance as every point for them is crucial with the position they’re in now. Villa will want to continue their run of good results but their home form hasn’t been great although they have beaten Man City at Villa Park this season. Gus Poyet and his men will feel it is a game which they can, if they play to their potential, produce a positive result but I feel a draw will be the likeliest outcome here.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 Sunderland