In January 31st, Burnley travel to the Stadium of Light to take on Sunderland. Both sides are hovering just above the relegation zone with both sides on 20 points. This is a huge match for the two sides. It’s a classic six pointer and, with both teams only three points off bottom spot, both teams are desperate for three points. Neither team have been able to turn draws into wins this season and that is the reason that they are both this low in the table. Both Sean Dyche and Gus Poyet will know that a win in this fixture could change their season and help keep them in this division.
Sunderland’s match day squad could have a completely different look to it depending on how some late fitness tests go for their players. Lee Cattermole and Wes Brown are both undergoing late fitness tests and are big questions heading into the match. Jack Rodwell will miss out through suspension after he was sent off in the FA Cup over the weekend. Poyet may get a boost with both Adam Johnson and Anthony Reveillere looking like they will pass fit to play against Burnley.
Not as much is up in the air for Sean Dyche’s side. Most of the squad is already set with Burnley and the only person’s fitness that is up in the air is striker Lukas Jutkiewicz. The English striker will have a late fitness test and could be fit, but will likely not start regardless. The Clarets will definitely be without Matt Taylor, Kevin Long, and Stephen Ward who all have longer term injuries.
Prior to the two teams playing out to a 0-0 draw, the two teams had scored at least two goals a game in the previous nine meetings. Sunderland have fewer wins than any other team in the Premier League and have more draws than any other team in the Premier League. Burnley have conceded more goals than any other team in the Premier League bar Queens Park Rangers. Sunderland have scored fewer goals than every other Premier League other than Aston Villa. No one in the Sunderland team has scored more than four league goals this season.
Sunderland: Jermain Defoe
Sunderland have had a terrible time putting the ball in the back of the net this season. Considering that is a pretty important part of football, that has been a reason Sunderland have struggled so much. Gus Poyet will hope he has found his goal machine in the shape of 32 year old Jermain Defoe. The English international has a very strong reputation for goal scoring and scored 10 or more goals in four of his last five Premier League seasons before going off to the United States for a year. He is very much a poacher of a striker that scores goals and doesn’t do much else. Many people believe that a striker must do more in the modern game, but, if Defoe can get the goals, Sunderland will not mind how he gets them. He will have to show that his time in the United States hasn’t effected him and all the money Sunderland have spent on his wages and the fee was worth it.
Burnley: Danny Ings
Going into this season, many people doubted Burnley’s quality and wondered if they would be able to stay up. When talking about Burnley staying up people cited the quality of Danny Ings as the driving force. Ings hasn’t taken the league by storm, but he has proved that he is Premier League quality and has proved to be one of Burnley’s best players. The 22 year old has scored or assisted on 48% of the teams Premier League goals. He needs to continue his form if not improve it for Burnley to stay in the Premier League.
Both teams will have marked this match as one that they will want to get three points from, but I feel like this could end up with the two sides splitting the points. Both will want to get three points for themselves, but they will both feel they can’t afford to let their opposition walk away three points. Sunderland are already the league leader in draws and I feel that they could be headed for their league leading 13th draw.
Prediction: 1-1 Draw