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Premier League

  • 17 March 2013
  • • 13:30
  • • Stadium of Light, Sunderland
  • Referee: C. Foy
  • • Attendance: 38625
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Sunderland - Norwich Preview: Hosts desperate to stop the rot as relegation battle looms

With their six-game winless streak seeing them increasingly flirt with the drop, the Black Cats are in need of a result against a Canaries side on the verge of sealing survival

  PROBABLE LINEUPS

SUNDERLAND

Mignolet
Gardner, Bramble, O'Shea, Rose
Sessegnon, Larsson, N'Diaye, Johnson
Graham, Fletcher
NORWICH

Bunn
Martin, Turner, Bassong, Garrido
Snodgrass, Howson, Johnson, Hoolahan
Kamara, Holt

Martin O’Neill will be desperate to return to winnings ways after his side’s dismal 2-1 defeat to basement-dwellers QPR on Saturday extended Sunderland’s winless streak to six games.

The return of Tottenham loanee Danny Rose (hamstring) will no doubt provide Sunderland with a significant boost, particularly if the left-back can recapture the glittering form he displayed earlier in the season.

Target man Connor Wickham is back in contention for the hosts after returning from his loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday, but is unlikely to displace either Danny Graham or Steven Fletcher at the helm of the attack.

Meanwhile, Norwich are expected to field a similar team to the side that were held to a frustrating stalemate at home by Southampton last time out, with the exception of Anthony Pilkington (hamstring).

After coming on for Pilkington last week, Wes Hoolahan will start in place of his Irish compatriot, but Elliot Bennett will also be in contention.

The clash comes too soon for Norway international Alex Tettey and Andrew Surman (both knee), while Mark Bunn remains in goal ahead of John Ruddy (thigh).


  DID YOU KNOW?
  • Sunderland have conceded ten goals in their last five matches.
  • The home side have scored the lowest proportion of headed goals - six per cent - in the Premier League this season.
  • The Black Cats were imperious in last season’s meeting as they stormed to a 3-0 victory at the Stadium of Light, with Frazier Campbell, Stephane Sessegnon and Norwich’s Danny Ayala (own goal) the scorers.
  • Norwich have failed to score in six of their last eight matches.
  • The visitors won just one of their last ten games and have claimed just one point in their last five outings away from home.
  • The Canaries have triumphed just once on the road all season, beating Swansea in a 4-3 belter at the Liberty Stadium.
  • Apart from Serie A's Torino, Norwich have ground out more 0-0 draws (six) than any other team in in the top five European Leagues this season.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
22Simon MignoletGoalkeeper
3Danny RoseMidfielder
16John O'SheaDefender
24Carlos Javier CuéllarDefender
7Sebastian LarssonMidfielder
8Craig GardnerMidfielder
-David VaughanMidfielder
11Adam JohnsonMidfielder
28Stéphane SessegnonMidfielder
9Danny GrahamStriker
9Steven FletcherStriker
20Keiren WestwoodGoalkeeper
2Phil BardsleyDefender
19Titus BrambleDefender
4Alfred N'diayeMidfielder
14Jack ColbackMidfielder
-James McCleanMidfielder
10Connor WickhamStriker
13Mark BunnGoalkeeper
2Russell MartinDefender
5S. BassongDefender
6Michael TurnerDefender
18Javier GarridoDefender
4Bradley JohnsonMidfielder
23Robert SnodgrassMidfielder
8Jonny HowsonMidfielder
14Wesley HoolahanMidfielder
17Elliott BennettMidfielder
-Kei KamaraStriker
1Lee CampGoalkeeper
3Steven WhittakerDefender
24Ryan Bennett Defender
25David FoxMidfielder
29Grant HoltStriker
19Luciano BecchioStriker
10K. JacksonMidfielder
Players to Watch
Steven Fletcher
Steven Fletcher
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 9
Games Goals YC RC
1 0 0 0
Steven Fletcher has more than proved his pedigree in the Premier League. Last year at Wolves and this year at Sunderland, Fletcher has been a constant source of goals on the backdrop of two largely average back-up casts. And with 11 goals so far this season, Fletcher looks likeliest to break the deadlock for the Black Cats on Sunday.
Bradley Johnson
Bradley Johnson
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 4
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
Norwich’s reversion to a 4-4-2 has demanded a lot more of Bradley Johnson in recent weeks. Without the industrious Alex Tettey at his side, Johnson has often been found wanting in the lone defensive midfielder role, illustrated last week against Southampton’s Gaston Ramirez and Adam Lallana. The former Leeds man has been dribbled past more times than any other Premier League player so far this season and a shift handling the in-field runs of Stephane Sessegnon and Adam Johnson will prove a stern test for the midfielder.
Prediction

Victory is imperative for Martin O’Neill. Sunderland currently find themselves on a six-game unbeaten run that, if continued unabated, will see them engulfed in the relegation battle at a critical point in the season.

With a gruelling fixture run that includes Manchester United, Everton, Chelsea and a resurgent Newcastle outfit on the immediate horizon, an encounter against a Canaries side that have tasted victory just once away from home this season is as good an opportunity as it gets for Martin O'Neill.

For Norwich, victory here could put them well on track for Premier League status next year, with the Canaries perched on nine-points clear of the relegation zone.  

Editor's Prediction

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