The battle for Premier League survival is really heating up with just three games to go, and this weekend’s match between Gus Poyet’s Sunderland and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Cardiff City is no different, with just one point seperating the two sides, and Cardiff playing one more game than the Black Cats.
The Black Cats remain bottom of the Premier League, but after two difficult away trips to the Etihad and Stamford Bridge, taking four points in the process, the North-East side may take in some deserved confidence of staying up in to their last four games. Cardiff City, however, have only won two on the road all season.
Phil Bardsley is back from suspension, Connor Wickham is a slight doubt – Ki and Steven Fletcher look set to miss out. Cardiff City look set to welcome Craig Bellamy back from illness.
- Sunderland have failed to win in 9 of their last 10 home Premier League matches.
- Connor Wickham has three goals in his last two PL games, after scoring just one goal in 37 appearances.
- Steven Caulker has scored five Premier League goals this season, only Fraizer Campbell (6) and Jordan Mutch (7) have scored more for the Bluebirds.
- Adam Johnson has scored or assisted 12 of the 33 goals Sunderland have scored this season.
- Sunderland lead the Premier League season in terms of red cards this season (7)
- Sunderland have taken only eight points from 15 games against teams currently in the bottom half of the table.
Fabio Borini and Steven Caulker
In a season where both sides have battled down at the bottom for Premier League survival, it can be argued these two players have tried to drag their respective teams through matches with individual performances.
Although, Fabio Borini has not been the only player to drag Sunderland out of the relegation battle, his team-mate Adam Johnson has been vital to the Black Cats, with eight goals and four assists this season.
While Fabio Borini has only scored four goals in the league this season, the on-loan striker from Liverpool has yet to see his side lose a game when the Italian striker has scored – (two goals and two wins over Newcastle United, a goal in the draw against Southampton and the important penalty in their 2-1 win over Chelsea last weekend.)
It can be argued his overall contribution in the league has been underwhelming considering he had a better goal-scoring run in the Capital One-Cup, scoring three goals in five matches for the Black Cats.
Cardiff City captain Steven Caulker has looked a bargain for the £7m that was paid to Tottenham Hotspur back in the summer.
In 35 appearances for the Bluebirds this season, Steven Caulker has scored five goals and has kept seven clean-sheets in the process, despite his side battling relegation for the majority of the season.
Despite keeping seven clean-sheets, a statistic that will be more satisfying to Cardiff City goalkeeper David Marshall, it can be argued Steven Caulker’s defensive stats have not been in accordance to some of the praise the English centre-back has received this season.
Caulker has won just 70.7% of his 44 total tackles this season, intercepting his opponent 59 times in 35 games.
Regardless of some of the short-comings of these two players in the Premier League over the course of the season, Fabio Borini and Steven Caulker will be crucial to their respective sides performance in such a crucial game at the foot of the table.