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Premier League

  • 29 October 2011
  • • 15:00
  • • Stadium of Light, Sunderland
  • Referee: C. Foy
  • • Attendance: 37062

Sunderland - Aston Villa Preview: Steve Bruce's men aiming for back-to-back wins for the first time since January

Black Cats look to improve poor home form in 2011 with third win in a row over the Villains, while Alex McLeish's side look to bounce back from successive defeats



O’Shea, Turner, Brown, Richardson
Larsson, Colback, Vaughan, Sessegnon
Wickham, Bendtner


Hutton, Dunne, Collins, Warnock
Albrighton, Petrov, Ireland, N’Zogbia
Agbonlahor, Bent

Expect Steve Bruce to stick with the same team that beat Bolton last week. It was the first time the Black Cats boss played with two up front this season, and it worked as Connor Wickham had an excellent first start.

The only variable in the line-up could be the position of Stephane Sessegnon who started on the wing at the Reebok but in the second-half was given more of a free-role.

Alex McLeish will be without the suspended Chris Herd and Barry Bannan who was made unavailable this week by the Scot. So expect Mark Albrighton and Stephen Ireland to come into the midfield, which may cause the former Birmingham City boss to change the team’s shape with four in midfield instead of three like last week. But if he chooses to stick with the 4-3-3 formation, Ciaran Clark could also be an option.

Meanwhile, Alan Hutton has recovered from the head injury he sustained last week, so he should start at right-back while Jermaine Jenas could play some part from the bench.


  • If Sunderland beat Aston Villa at the Stadium of Light, it would be their first pair of back-to-back wins since January, when they beat Blackburn and coincidentally Villa.
  • The Black Cats did the double over the Birmingham-based club last season with the scoreline being 1-0 on both occasions.
  • Villa last won at the Stadium of Light in 2009, when Emile Heskey and James Milner hit the back of the net in a 2-0 victory.
  • Sunderland have only won once at home this season and only three times in 2011. 
  • Aston Villa side are yet to win away from home this season, out of their four games so far they’ve drawn three times and lost once.
  • Darren Bent (pictured right) will make his first return to the Stadium of Light since joining Villa in January. Bent is Sunderland’s record sale and the Midlands side's record buy at a reported £24 million.
  • The Black Cats have the joint third best defence in the Premier League after nine games, conceding just 10 goals.
  • There were two red cards in the last fixture between these two sides with the Wearsiders' Bolo Zenden being sent off while Villa's Emile Heskey was also sent off for an early shower.
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Players to watch

C. Wickham

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
Wickham had an excellent first start for Steve Bruce’s side last week against Bolton. If he can cause the same problems this week against Richard Dunne and James Collins, Sunderland will have a good afternoon. 

This centre-back paring will be slightly more physical than the duo he faced last week. But if he can tough it out and use his pace against them, he will find success.

The £8 million price tag does not seem to be weighing on his shoulders, but he will be anxious to get off the mark.

Chances, however, do not come easy against Villa so he must be patient and not snatch at opportunities that come his way.

D. Bent

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
The England international returns to his old club for the first time since his £24 million move in January, and the Sunderland supporters will not be happy to see him after his less than harmonious exit from the Stadium of Light.

Bent is a player that likes to prove people wrong and he will be up for this fixture. His pace and movement in the box could cause the Black Cats some defensive problems, and half a chance is all that the forward needs to put the ball in the back of the net.

But he first needs to ensure that Sunderland are not able to neutralise him like West Brom did for the majority of the game last week.

Editor's Prediction

Sunderland should be rejuvenated by their victory over Bolton Wanderers last week, and they should be able to play with a little freedom as the fans will likely be off their backs for the first-half at the very least.

Villa were poor last week, lacked substance going forward and did not get Bent or Charles N’Zogbia into the game. If they fail to do that this week, another defeat could be on the cards.

Meanwhile, the Black Cats should be able to come up with the goods and kick-start their season and put the pressure on the opposition’s manager instead of their own.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head


Aston Villa


Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Sunderland AFC SUN
Sunderland AFC Sunderland
Aston Villa FC AST
Aston Villa FC Aston Villa

Top 3 Predictions

Sunderland AFC SUN
1 - 1
Aston Villa FC AST
Sunderland AFC SUN
1 - 0
Aston Villa FC AST
Sunderland AFC SUN
2 - 1
Aston Villa FC AST