The FourFourTwo Preview: Sunderland vs Man City
Sunderland 1-0 Manchester City (insert player, late goal minute).
Gus Poyet will be praying that the Stadium of Light spirit goes with Sunderland against Manchester City once more – because his side need a miracle this weekend. The Black Cats have won this fixture for three seasons running, all by 1-0 scorelines, courtesy of Darren Bent, Ji Dong-Won and Adam Johnson goals. But boy does the Black Cats’ new Uruguayan boss need his fair slice of luck and then some when Manuel Pellegrini’s free-scoring marauders head to the North East.
- S'land 2-1 So'ton (LC)
- Hull 1-0 S'land (Prem)
- S'land 2-1 Newcastle (Prem)
- Swansea 4-0 S'land (Prem)
- S'land 1-2 Man Utd (Prem)
MAN CITY FORM
- Man City 5-2 CSKA (CL)
- Man City 7-0 Norwich (Prem)
- Newcastle 0-2 Man City (LC)
- Chelsea 2-1 Man City (Prem)
- CSKA 1-2 Man City (CL)
Poyet recitifed a shocking first game in charge against Swansea as Sunderland left it late to win the Tyne-Wear derby, but his side shot themselves in the foot last weekend with a 1-0 defeat at Hull, having already found themselves two players lighter at the break. Silly sausages.
But it’s no laughing matter on Wearside. Poyet’s job ahead is huge, with his new team already five points adrift in the bottom three (one fewer than when he started, at least). First he must achieve what Paolo Di Canio couldn’t: getting his players onside, building morale and then getting the club’s hefty load of new signings working together.
So you can bet the Black Cats' chief isn’t too hot on the idea of a visit from Manchester City on Sunday afternoon. After smacking seven past hapless Norwich last weekend, the league’s leading scorers went and bagged another five against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League.
This, for a Sunderland side with the league’s worst defensive record (22 conceded), does not make for the best of timings. Nevertheless, there is a little wriggle room when facing Pellegrini’s overpowering prowlers – they’re still not so hot at the back. Joe Hart has been dropped for his string of clangers, and without Vincent Kompany, City just aren’t the same side. Even CSKA scored twice.
But Sunderland have been fair warned. Sergio Aguero is in irresistible goalscoring form (12 in nine, for Christ sake), as are both Yaya Toure and summer signing Alvaro Negredo, who bagged a hat-trick against the Russians. This could all end in tears.
Keiren Westwood (neck) is the only man on Sunderland’s treatment table after coming out second best in a collision with Hull’s Paul McShane last weekend. “I’m not accusing McShane at all,” fumed Poyet after the game. “But he nearly killed him, he is injured, he is out and I need to change my goalkeeper.”
No accusations, though, right? Meanwhile, Lee Cattermole and Andrea Dossena are suspended for another two matches after their reds at the KC Stadium.
Fernandinho and David Silva have “small problems” after Tuesday’s clash against CSKA, while Javi Garcia is also nursing a knock. Stevan Jovetic (calf) and Kompany (thigh) aren’t ready to return yet.
Key battle: Craig Gardner vs Man City
Gardner was dropped after Sunderland’s humping by Swansea, but Cattermole's suspension means the former Aston Villa man will be given the hopeless task of trying to control the visitors’ dominant midfield.
Against Norwich, Pellegrini’s destroyers tore through the Canaries. The graphic above shows the regularity of touches for Toure, Samir Nasri and Silva in central positions, which effectively meant they ventured forward with five through the middle. After racking up over 700 passes, seven could have been double figures.
Sunderland can’t allow them to pass the ball as freely as Norwich did, or else the consequences could be devastating. But that also means Gardner & Co. have to keep possession better – against Swansea he completed just 21 of 28 passes in 90 minutes, particularly poor figures for a central midfielder.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- S'land 1-0 City (Prem, Dec 12)
- City 3-0 S'land (Prem, Oct 12)
- City 3-3 S'land (Prem, March 12)
- S'land 1-0 City (Prem, Jan 12)
- City 5-0 S'land (Prem, April 11)
The men made in South American have never met in the dugout, this being Poyet’s first big job after his successful stint at Brighton. The Uruguayan might have enjoyed derby glory, but will need his charges to cut out the disciplinary nonsense that cost them at Hull.
Pellegrini, meanwhile, looks to be getting his new side into gear. It’s not quite perfect – the aforementioned cracks at the back won’t be sealed overnight – but otherwise it’s so far, so good for the Chilean.
Facts and figures
- Sunderland have won each of their last 3 league home games against Manchester City 1-0.
- Two of the goals in the three recent 1-0 Sunderland home wins against Man City have come in the 90th minute.
- Man City have scored at least 6 goals more this season than any other Premier League team.
- Sunderland have hit only 24 shots on target all season; in contrast Man City have 28 goals (from 68 shots on target).
- City have the best conversion rate in the Premier League this season (22%) while Sunderland have the lowest shooting accuracy (31%).
- Sergio Aguero has 7 goals and 3 assists in his last 5 league games.
- Edin Dzeko (8) needs one more goal as a substitute away from home in the Premier League to equal the record (9, held by Javier Hernandez and Jermain Defoe).
- Sunderland have collected 3 of the Premier League's 12 red cards this season.
- The Black Cats have also conceded 3 of the Premier League's 6 own goals this season.
- No team has benefited from more own goals than Manchester City this season (2).
- Sunderland have the division's weakest defence, conceding 22 goals in 10 games.
- Man City have the division's strongest attack, scoring 28 goals in 10 games.
- The Black Cats have lost 8 of their last 10 home matches against top-six teams, including seven in which they were losing at half-time and full-time.
- Sunderland have failed to keep a clean sheet in the last 14 league games and have conceded first in 10 of them.
- Man City have scored first in 7 of their last 11 away matches.
- There have been 3 or more goals in each of Sunderland’s previous 4 home fixtures and in 4 out of Man City's 5 away games this season.
Twelve City goals in a week bodes horribly for the club where everything seems to be broken. 0-3.