WILL DYER (@w2Dyer) previews the big game from the Wearside as Man City attempt to keep their title dreams alive against relegation-haunted Sunderland.
Sunderland v Manchester City | Sunday 16:00 | Sky Sports 1
It’s becoming do-or-die for Sunderland and Manchester City’s league seasons. The Black Cats once again find themselves at the foot of the table with an uphill struggle ahead of them to avoid the drop, whilst the Citizens are 11 points behind the league leaders.
Sunderland have been in this position before, it’s nothing new to them. This will be the sixth successive season that the Wearside club battle the drop, the tenth place finish in 2011 under Steve Bruce being the last time they were comfortable.
However, it doesn’t seem to matter who’s at the helm. Martin O’Neill, Paolo Di Canio, Gus Poyet and Dick Advocaat have all steered the club to safety and I would argue that David Moyes has more than enough experience, especially in the Premier League, to match those feats.
Moyes had a very quiet January transfer window, only bringing in Darron Gibson and Bryan Oviedo from Everton and losing Patrick van Aanholt has further weakened their already poor defence. However, they though have quite a deep squad.
Paddy McNair, Steven Pienaar, Jan Kirchhoff, Duncan Watmore, Jack Rodwell and Lee Cattermole are all doubts for this tie against City but they can still field an experienced side. A 5-3-2 with Billy Jones and Oviedo as the wing backs is expected in order to crowd out the Citizens attack.
Pep Guardiola has Man City playing sublime attacking football right now. They are still completely fallible in their overall game play but now more than ever it’s blatantly obvious that the defence is the reason they aren’t top of the table or winning Champions League matches seamlessly.
In their last two matches against Huddersfield and Monaco, they found so much space in the final third which doesn’t bode well for Sunderland. The problem Sunderland have is that they could really do with the three points, a draw would be a good result but settling for it before the game has begun is not an option.
Sterling Still Value
Any attacking intent from the Black Cats could leave them vulnerable on the wings if Jones and Oviedo fail to track back effectively.
As a result, I’m looking at Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling for goals. The latter has two goals in his last three starts and is becoming a focal point of the side, 19/10 on him scoring anytime with 888Sport is my NAP.
Sunderland have history winning matches against top opposition at this stage of the season. Therefore, Manchester City at 1/3 to win in a tie as important as this for both sides makes it hard for me to back them on any handicaps.
Whilst Sergio Aguero notching is 2/5 in places, the value looks to be the other front-men.
Sunderland v Manchester City – Raheem Sterling to score anytime (19/10 888Sport)
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