Draw specialists set for Stadium of Light meet. This preview is courtesy of fanatix.
It’ll be a reunion between the master and pupil at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, as Aston Villa’s Paul Lambert comes up against his mentor and former boss Martin O’Neill. The Scot played for O’Neill at Celtic and the Northern Irishman later handed Lambert his break in English football management, recommending the former midfield battler for the Wycombe Wanderers job.
And the 43-year-old will have rarely face darker periods in his short managerial career. His Villa side have made their worst start to a season since 1969 and Lambert is under increasing pressure, particularly as he stubbornly refuses to recall England international Darren Bent.
O’Neill will know something of how his protegee is feeling, however. Sunderland fans were left furious at a midweek League Cup exit to neighbours Middlesborough and a failure to win here will leave O’Neill’s drab side hovering just above the drop zone.
Venue Stadium of Light, Saturday 3pm
Last season Sunderland 2 Aston Villa 2
Referee Mike Jones
This season’s matches 6 Y22, R0, 3.67 cards per game
Odds Sunderland 11-10 Aston Villa 3-1 Draw 12-5
fanatix predicted line-up:
Subs from Westwood, Kilgallon, Meyler, Gardner, Rose, Vaughan, Saha, Ji, Campbell, Bramble, Wickham
Doubtful Bramble (hip), Larsson (dead leg), Rose (ankle), Gardner (dead leg), Cuéllar (hamstring)
Injured Brown (knee, unknown) Suspended El Ahmadi
Form guide DDLWDD
Disciplinary record Y10 R0
Leading scorer Fletcher 5
Subs from Given, Hutton, Baker, Bent, Albrighton, Westwood, Bowery, Weimann, Stevens, Lichaj, Herd
Doubtful Clark (knee), Herd (knee)
Suspended El Ahmadi (one match)
Form guide DLLDLW
Disciplinary record Y20 R2
Leading scorers Bent, Benteke 2
Sunderland have won only one of their last seven home games against Villa in league and cup but are on a five-match unbeaten run against the Villains.
The previous 22 Premier League fixtures between these clubs yielded only 39 goals – an average of 1.77 per match.
Sunderland have won one of their last 16 matches, drawing 11 times.
They did not register a shot on target against Stoke last weekend and have only managed 12 all season. Every other Premier League team has had at least 28 according to Opta (excluding blocked shots).
The Black Cats have the worst goalscoring record in the Premier League this season. Five of their six goals have come from Steven Fletcher, and the other was an own goal by Newcastle’s Demba Ba.
Sunderland have won the fewest corners (26) in and have conceded the most (59).
In all competitions, a Sunderland player hasn’t scored in six hours and 39 minutes since Fletcher’s 51st-minute winner against Wigan on 29 September.
Sunderland are strong defensively though – only Arsenal have conceded fewer goals.
Martin O’Neill managed Aston Villa for four seasons between 2006 and 2010, guiding the club to sixth-place finishes in each of his last three years in charge.
Craig Gardner progressed through Villa’s youth set-up to make 79 first-team appearances for the club.
But the wasteful midfielder is the only player in the top flight to have had 10 or more shots this season and fail to hit the target with any of them.
This is Villa’s worst start to a season since 1969-70, when they finished 21st in the second tier of English football, after taking 2 points from the opening 9 games. Paul Lambert was just six weeks old by the end of the barren run.
They have won only one of their last 19 league matches, and picked up just 21 points from their 28 games in 2012 – the lowest tally of any Premier League club.
Villa have failed to win any of their last 13 away matches in the Premier League, since beating Wolves at Molineaux in January.
None of Villa’s first XI last weekend have ever started a Premier League game with another club. Gabby Agbonlahor made his 200th Premier League start – that is 61 more than the rest of the team combined.
Only Sunderland have scored fewer than Villa’s seven goals.
Darren Bent scored 36 goals in 63 appearances for Sunderland before joining Villa in January 2011 for a fee rising to £24m.
fanatix prediction: These two don’t seem to win many games, so we’ll have to plump for the draw. 1-1.
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