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Premier League

  • 3 November 2012
  • • 15:00
  • • Stadium of Light, Sunderland
  • Referee: M. Jones
  • • Attendance: 41515

Sunderland - Aston Villa Preview: Two out-of-form sides look to arrest their poor fortunes

The Black Cats play host to their manager's former club with both teams aiming to bring an end to underwhelming starts to the season and grab a vital three points




Bardsley, Cuellar, O'Shea, Rose
Larsson, Cattermole
Johnson, Sessegnon, McClean


Lowton, Vlaar, Lichaj, Bennett

Albrighton, El Ahmadi, Delph, N'Zogbia
Agbonlahor, Benteke

Martin O'Neill welcomes his old club to Wearside with the continued absence of his central defensive duo Titus Bramble (hip) and Wes Brown (calf) leaving his squad notably weakened at the back.

He should, though, have the option of recalling Seb Larsson to his line-up, with the Dane expected to have recovered from the knock which kept him out of Wednesday's Capital One Cup defeat to Middlesbrough.

The visitors also find themselves shorn of a key member of their backline, with Richard Dunne (groin) still not ready for a return to first-team action.

Youngster Joe Bennett will be available, however, returning from his one-match suspension, while Nathan Baker (ankle) and Ciaran Clark (knee) should also be at Paul Lambert's disposal, with both likely to shake off respective recent injuries.

Gary Gardner (cruciate) and Stiliyan Petrov (serious illness) remain long-term absentees for the Midlands side.

  • Saturday's game represents a meeting of the two lowest-scoring teams in the division. Sunderland sit rock bottom of the 'goals for' chart, having netted only six times in their opening eight league games, while Aston Villa are joint-second bottom with only one more from nine matches.
  • The only clash between the two clubs since the Northern Irishman took over on Wearside also saw boths club coming into the fixture struggling for goals. Aptly, the game in April 2012 finished 0-0.
  • Each of these clubs' league form so far this season offers miserable reading, having only secured two wins between them in a combined 17 games.
  • Newcastle front-man Demba Ba currently stands as the Black Cats' second-top goalscorer so far this season, following his own goal in the Tyne-Wear derby. Steven Fletcher (pictured right) is Sunderland's only goalscorer from heir own squad, with an impressive six.
  • Fletcher's strike partner, Stephane Sessegnon, has not found that net in 17 appearances going into this clash.

Players to watch

A. Johnson

Position: Midfielder

Games: 0

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0

The native Wearsider has come in for criticism in some quarters in recent weeks, having so far failed to show the sort of form that convinced Martin O'Neill to splash out £10 million to prise the winger from Manchester City in the summer. In short, Johnson needs to start putting some more assertive performances together, and soon, if he is to keep his reputation as one of England's most exciting attackers and indeed to stay in Roy Hodgson's plans. The player himself will be aware of this, and up against young full-back Joe Bennett - who was sent off following some naive defending in his last outing against Norwich - Johnson may find himself with the perfect chance to impress.

C. Benteke

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0

The 21-year-old is likely to keep his place up front at the Stadium of Light, having found the net with a neat headed finish against Swindon on Tuesday. Benteke boasts an impressive pedigree at international level, regularly lining up alongside the likes of Eden Hazard, Mousa Dembele and Marouane Fellaini for Belgium in recent months, and with fellow forward Darren Bent finding himself out of favour under Paul Lambert, the powerful striker is likely to be given the breathing space to establish himself as the talismanic goalscorer that the Villa Park faithful desperately lack.

Editor's Prediction

The common deminator across these two sides this season is, quite clearly, their collective shortage of attacking verve and, by extension, goals. This said, both clubs are in danger of allowing a simple bad spell of form to evolve into something more severe, and so each should be looking for an emphatic way of disproving their growing number of doubters. As Sunderland showed last season, when their creative players - most crucially Stephane Sessegnon - hit form, there are plenty of chances in the side, and Steven Fletcher has already proven himself a reliable converter. Up against an inexperienced Villa side, this could be the day that Martin O'Neill's men turn their season around.

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