Both these sides head into this game looking to get 2015 off to a good start after ending 2014 with score-draws. City head into the New Year poised in perfect position to strike at Chelsea should the leaders slip up, although City must be much more ruthless than they were last time out. In that game, with Chelsea dropping two points to Southampton, Manuel Pelligrini’s men blew a two goal lead at home to Burnley in one of the comebacks of the season for the lowly placed side. Sunderland, however, have become the draw specialists in the Premier League. Out of nineteen games this season, the Black Cats have ended up with eleven draws – quite amazing – and as such Gus Poyet’s side have only lost twice in their last ten league games.
Manuel Pellegrini has six injury worries ahead of the first fixture of 2015, although three of those casualties are only slight doubts for the home clash with Sunderland. Yaya Toure (groin), Vincent Kompany (calf) and youngster Jose Pozo (illness) are the slight doubts for the Citizens, whilst strikers Edin Dzeko (calf) and Sergio Aguero (MCL knee ligaments) are both out until mid January at least. Centre-back Matija Nastasic is also missing with a thigh problem.
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet has four injuries heading into this game with key man Sebastien Larsson facing a late fitness test after an ankle injury. Liam Bridcutt is out through concussion whilst Anthony Reveillere is out with a calf muscle strain. Patrick van Aanholt is also out with a dislocated shoulder. However, the good news for Poyet is that all these players should be available to him by mid-January as long there are no more setbacks in their recoveries.
- Manchester City have won eight and lost none of their last ten Premier League home games against the Black Cats.
- Since the start of the Premier League, Sunderland have never kept a clean sheet away to Manchester City – conceding 28 in the process.
- James Milner has scored more goals against Sunderland than he has against any other side (five).
- In early December, City scored four goals from just four shots on target when they beat Sunderland 4-1 at the Stadium of Light.
- Connor Wickham has scored three goals in two appearances against Manchester City.
- There have been 25 goals netted in the last five meetings between these two sides at the Etihad.
- Sunderland have already drawn six games 0-0 this season, more than in any of their previous thirteen Premier League campaigns.
David Silva has become one of the biggest names in the Premier League since his switch from Valencia in the summer of 2010. Since then, the Spaniard has won two league titles and has been integral for both Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini. This season, the diminutive playmaker has been no different. Quietly pulling the strings in the final third whilst players such as Sergio Aguero take the glory with goals galore. This is not to say that David Silva doesn’t score, the Spanish international has scored an impressive six goals from thirteen appearances this term and has two assists to add to that – solid totals.
Silva’s ability in the final third is world class and his key figures prove this without having to watch him play. Silva averages 2.48 successful key passes per 90 minutes played (p90) that shows how tidy he can keep the play in tight areas on the edge of opposition penalty areas. Silva also creates 2.65 chances p90, which is competitive in the Premier League (although some way behind the rampant Cesc Fabregas’ total of 59 or 3.33 p90). David Silva is also a very elusive player in what is the most important area of the field. From his time on the wings for Valencia, Silva has learnt how to dribble to great effect and his successful take-ons figure of 82.61% makes for very impressive reading.
If Sunderland, or Lee Cattermole for that matter, can keep him quiet then Sunderland might have a chance. Unless, you know, someone else who is world class pops up somewhere else.
Adam Johnson has probably not lived up to his billing since his switch to Manchester City in 2010. The signs were bright at first with some eyebrow raising performances and goals to match. However, the now-Sunderland man was deemed not good enough and off he went to the North East. The English winger is probably never going to reach the heights we thought he could but on his day he can be really dangerous – as Newcastle United found out just before Christmas when he netted a very late winner at St. James’ Park. And I think Sunderland will need a hard working and energetic performance from him here if they are to come away with a point or more.
So far this season, Johnson has created 1.53 chances p90 which isn’t too bad for a player operating in a team that struggles to score and win games. This carries over into his assists column that currently shows zero for the campaign. Individually, Johnson does a little better with his successful take-ons percentage reading 69.23%, a figure better than the likes of Raheem Sterling and Alexis Sanchez for the first half of the season. His personal shooting accuracy is also competitive at 54% whilst he’s also scored three league goals in 16 appearances.
All in all, Johnson has been okay this season and can be really dangerous on the day – something Manchester City should know all too well with his being a former Citizen.
After dropping points in a complacent manner to Burnley just a few days ago, I can see City coming out and wiping the floor with Sunderland just to prove a point. However, up until the 4-1 drubbing in early December, Sunderland had been somewhat of a bogey team for City with unlikely wins springing up from time to time. That doesn’t change my thinking though and I’m going for a 3-0 home win – despite Sunderland’s passion for boring scoredraws.