After holding the storming league leaders to a stalemate on Saturday night, Sunderland another team in the title race at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday when Manchester City travel east.
Despite their calamitous defending against Arsenal and thrashing at Southampton, Sunderland showed signs at the beginning of the season that they could effectively defend as a team conceding 7 goals in 7 matches. This was on show against Chelsea at the weekend as prevented the best team in the league from scoring and obtain a well-earned point. It could be a turning point in Sunderland’s season, but that will swiftly be put to the test with fixtures against Manchester City and Liverpool in the matter of a few days.
Manchester City have enjoyed a good week after winning a vital match in the Champions League against Bayern Munich and in the league against surprise package Southampton. It comes after a poor period that saw them slip further behind Chelsea in the title race and make Champions League progression difficult; now they sit 6 points behind Chelsea in the league and a result away to Roma will see them into the knockout stages. A favourable looking run for the current English champions over the festive period means City could finally hit the performances and form of last season.
After drawing plaudits for his performance on Saturday against Chelsea, Cattermole will once again be the defensive battering ram in midfield to shield his defence from Manchester City’s attacking quality.
The midfielder was a rock for Sunderland making 7 tackles – just under a third of total tackles made by Sunderland players – 3 interceptions and blocked 2 shots. Alongside this, Cattermole nullified Cesc Fabregas’ influence on the match and a similar performance against City – particularly Yaya Toure who looked like he was returning to form against Southampton – will be needed to help get something out of the game.
The Argentine striker is reaching the form that has seen him mentioned amongst the top 3 players and has almost won games on his own recently – last week against Bayern for example.
While Aguero didn’t find add to his 17 goals – 12 in the league – at the weekend, his influence was still felt against Southampton. The striker created 4 chances for his team mates with two resulting goals. A conversion rate of 23.5% and a very credible shot accuracy of 63%, Aguero is arguably the striker in the Premier League and given half the chance he can make Sunderland pay.
The match will come too soon for Sunderland duo Jones and Giaccherini, who could be back for next weekend. Van Aanholt is also set to miss out for the foreseeable future with a shoulder injury.
Manchester City will be with Mangala who was sent off at the weekend, while Vincent Kompany had to be withdrawn from the match due to an injury and the City captain is a doubt for the trip to Sunderland. Other injuries include Dzeko, Silva, and Kolarov who are all set to miss the match.
The Stadium of Light has been nightmare place to visit in recent years for Manchester City with their last 4 matches resulting in 1-0 Sunderland victory. The term ‘bogey team’ will also be heard ahead of the match with Manchester City only beating the Black Cats once in 6 matches – the only victory coming over 2 years ago (Oct 2012).
On average, Sunderland have scored under a goal per match (0.9).
Similar to West Brom last season, Sunderland have draw an alarming high number with 8 of their 13 league matches resulting in a draw.
Sergio Aguero has scored 14 goals in his last 20 matches in the Premier League.
Manchester City have only conceded 1 goal from set pieces this season.
Despite their poor record against Sunderland, Manchester City travel to the Stadium of Light in a confident mood. It will be hard work, but the 3 points should return to Manchester.