Coventry v Sunderland | Sunday 1st March 2020, 12:00 | Sky Sports
Those who love footballing nostalgia will probably be quick to point out that it wasn’t a million years ago that Coventry versus Sunderland was a Premier League fixture! Nevertheless, both are trying to get one step closer to the big time by winning promotion out of League One, and three points in their Sunday lunchtime encounter would go a long way towards that.
Before a ball was kicked in League One this weekend, Coventry sit second in the table, with Rotherham only ahead of goal difference at the summit. Sunderland are three points behind in fourth, and still hold title ambitions of their own. This match also presents two outfits in good form and enjoying productive unbeaten runs.
Cov tough to beat
To a degree, it has almost gone unnoticed across the British footballing scene that Coventry have only lost three league games all season. To therefore not lose 29 of their 32 league assignments so far, in what is a typically competitive division, is some going. Mark Robins is clearly doing something right.
This is made all the more impressive considering their stadium issues, having been ground-sharing with Birmingham City this season. Only one of those losses came at home, which was against struggling Tranmere, but bigger tests are to come in Birmingham.
That is because before the season closes, Coventry still have to welcome Wycombe, Peterborough and Oxford after entertaining the Black Cats. What an opportunity this is for the Sky Blues.
What is noticeable looking at Coventry’s record quite closely is that they aren’t one to really put teams to the sword. They have two 4-1 wins to their name, one being away to Wycombe, but those two and a 2-0 home win over Bristol Rovers remain their only wins by larger than a one-goal margin.
Furthermore, they’ve played current top-half teams on 15 occasions this season, but only won five of those. Sure, they’ve only lost one, but that may suggest they possibly tinker their style to a degree against stronger opposition. Sunderland fall into that category.
Sunderland on a roll
There is a feel-good factor around the Stadium of Light once again. Sure, Joey Barton was quick to highlight that Sunderland getting a late home draw with Fleetwood is nothing to shout home about, but it just keeps them ticking along nicely. It allows them to go into this Coventry clash in high spirits, especially as they’ve only lost once since December 7th, that being away to Portsmouth.
Coventry are tough to beat. Sunderland are tough to beat. There is every chance that this could be another close match and that may favour Coventry considering their ability to get points from situations like this. Another plus for Coventry is Sunderland’s away record against the top sides in League One. They’ve lost at Portsmouth, Wycombe and Peterborough without scoring in reply.
Phil Parkinson’s men however do possess the best defensive record in the division, and that will count for something. They do have 11 clean sheets to their name, but only three came on the road. You can expect Parkinson to set his team up to be hard to beat on this occasion. They’re likely to sit back and allow Coventry to keep the ball in certain areas. This in turn may frustrate Sunday’s hosts.
The betting angle
Without a doubt I wouldn’t put anybody off backing the draw in this one as it is certainly quite a viable outcome. It isn’t something I normally punt however, so there is a different angle I will pursue.
Sunderland’s away record against the top teams does concern me a little, and for all that Coventry are always in close matches, so the margin for error is not great, they’re used to that and they clearly know how to negotiate such situations.
Coventry Double Chance and Under 3 Goals looks a worthy bet-builder call at 11/10 (Bet365). Both teams have experienced goals to games averages below 2.50, and with this being a top of the table battle you just know both will have done their homework on one another.
Coventry aren’t big scorers, plus Sunderland concede so few. We’ll just side with Cov DC instead of Sunderland because they’ve lost only three all season!
Coventry v Sunderland – Coventry Double Chance and Under 3 Goals (11/10 Bet365)