Sunderland and Manchester City will do battle at the Stadium of Light this Sunday.
David Moyes needs something to happen and soon. He is rather fortunate in the sense that there is a smorgasbord of sides struggling above him, but the sheer performance of his side has been disappointing. They have had a plethora of injury issues to deal with, but there has just been a distinct lack of ability on show. And when you see Moyes bringing back the likes of Lescott, you get really concerned for the long-term efficacy of this football club. Manchester City - by contrast - have been on an upward surge in all competitions, with Guardiola finally finding some form of fluidity in the side.
Sunderland v Manchester City | Sunday 5 March | The Stadium of Light | 18:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Sunderland 8/1 | Draw 47/10 | City 1/4
Sunderland just don’t have the players at their disposal to mount a serious charge towards survival. To be fair to the Black Cats, this is a bullet that they have rather masterfully dodged for some time now. Moyes has inherited a mess and I feel for him. If Jermaine Defoe doesn’t score, where are the goals coming from? I’m still not sure about Kone in the heart of defence while the likes of Borini and Januzai seem more concerned in earning individual acclaim than helping their team survive.
It seems as if Jan Kirchoff may be available this week after an injury layout.
When Sunderland have looked at their best this season, it has been with Kirchoff patrolling the defenders in a sweeper position. His willingness to do the dirty work allows the likes of Januzaj a little more freedom to go forward. But let’s talk realistically here, they are coming up against a well-drilled machine this weekend that is going to take some stopping. And Sunderland have shown the capacity to absolutely throw in the towel when the going gets tough, even at home.
The unfortunate injury to Gabriel Jesus has allowed Sergio Aguero to show what he has always been capable of. If I were Guardiola, I would never have risked alienating their striker. He is amongst the best in the world and deserves more from the club. I expect him to go into this match - against the bottom team in the country - with the intention of completely overwhelming Sunderland. Guardiola will persist with his 4-1-4-1 formation and will be looking to Silva and Aguero to unlock the relatively rickety Sunderland defence.
I just can’t see how Oviedo and Jones are going to cope with Sane and Sterling in wide areas. Furthermore, I can’t see how the likes of N’dong will be able to contain the intricacy of Silva and De Bruyne. expect Defoe to have a long, lonely day up front, desperately waiting for the chance to latch onto something quasi-decent. Fortunately for him, Stones has shown a certain preponderance for the self-destructive, so he will always carry a threat. But this is only going to end one way. Badly.
Verdict: Halftime-Fulltime Double - City/City 7/10
With Chelsea only playing on Monday night, City have the chance to put a fair amount of pressure on the Blues. I expect them to destroy a Sunderland side that are really just cruising towards the drop.
Written by Damien Kayat for