Black Cats take on Etihad Stadium visitors.
Whatever happened to Ji Dong Won? 2012 began at the Stadium of Light with an injury-time winner from the South Korean striker against Manchester City – and he hasn’t scored since. In fact, he’s not even been sighted in the first team this season, and has only got one goal as an over-aged player for the Under-21 side.
It’s strange to think that his late goal on New Year’s Day could have laid a claim to deciding where the title went last season, until Sergio Aguero scored THAT even later goal (by 32 seconds!) on the final day.
Ji will more than likely be off in January, with others coming in as Martin O’Neill looks to strengthen a squad that’s quite frankly under-achieved in this campaign. Two wins from the last three games have made things look a lot brighter in the Black Cats camp however, and with some money spent in the coming transfer window I’m convinced that any relegation worries won’t linger deep into spring.
Most wouldn’t expect them to ease after this game against the champions, but there is just a feeling about City at the moment that they’re there to be beaten if all the planets align just right for the opposition. From being sublime at Newcastle in their last away game, they struggled to break through the massed ranks of Reading defenders on Saturday.
Cheers of relief did follow the frustration though, and it’s often believed that the mark of champions is being able to win when not all has gone smoothly. I even heard it referred to as a “United style win of old” – and I think that was a compliment.
For all the Reading claims of wrong-doing, for me there was nothing wrong with Gareth Barry’s late, late winner – and I’m back to where I started, talking about late goals.
The last three meetings of these two on Wearside have seen injury-time goals. The last two have seen winning goals for Sunderland. Just don’t leave early.
SOURCE: BBC Sport
Stadium of Light
Kick-off: 15.00 GMT.
TV: Highlights, BBC ONE Match of the Day.
Sunderland (Possible, 4-4-2): Mignolet; Bardsley, Cuellar, O’Shea, Rose; Johnson, Larsson, Gardner, McClean; Sessegnon, Fletcher.
Out: Brown (knee), Cattermole (knee).
Test: Johnson (leg), Larsson (knee).
Man City (Possible, 4-4-2): Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy; Milner, Garcia; Agüero, Y Touré, Silva; Tevez.
Out: Richards (knee), Rodwell (hamstring), Nasri (groin).
Tests: Balotelli (illness), Kolarov (leg).
Referee: Kevin Friend (Matches 9, R1 Y33).
Sunderland won this fixture 1-0 at home for the second successive season on New Year’s Day 2012, courtesy of Ji Dong-Won’s stoppage-time winner. However, those are their only wins in their last 15 games against Manchester City (W2, D2, L11).
There has not been a goalless draw between these sides in the league since 1938.
The Black Cats have won just one of their last eight Boxing Day fixtures (W1 D4 L3).
Sunderland are attempting to register back-to-back home wins for the first time since March.
They have only gained one point from losing positions – the joint-worst record in the division.
Steven Fletcher has scored eight goals from only 15 shots on target in the Premier League this season. He has opened the scoring in more matches (six) than any other player.
City are the only Premier League side still unbeaten in away matches this season (W4, D4). They have gone 11 away games without defeat since a 1-0 loss at Arsenal in April.
They have scored the most goals in the final 30 minutes of league games this season (21) and the final 15 minutes of matches (11).
City have won all 14 of the Premier League matches that Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez have started together. They are also unbeaten in the 21 league games in which Aguero had scored (W20, D1).
SOURCE: BBC Sport
Tickets still available for top football matches – Sunderland tickets