This fixture generally follows some kind of rule or pattern and this match could be no different. Judging on recent goings on and general history, here are three things we should look out for in today’s huge match against Stoke.
1. Can home form dominance continue?
The two teams have met 11 times in the Premier League era with Sunderland unbeaten at home (3 wins and 2 draws) and Stoke beaten just once on their patch (plus 4 wins and a draw). Recent form also leans towards a home win, with the Lads suffering just 1 defeat in the last 6 league (and 2 wins) whilst Stoke have lost 4 of their last 6 league games and won just 1, conceding 16 goals in the process.
2. Ref watch – more red cards than goals?
A ridiculous red card (later rescinded) for Big Bad Wes in the reverse fixture against Stoke means that there had been 3 red cards in the last four games between the two sides (Craig Gardner and Robert Huth the other recipients) with just 5 goals. Ref Bobby Madley will be the man in the middle with his trigger finger hovering over his cards. He’s also the man who awarded Stoke a last-minute penalty which Charlie Adam converted for a 3-3 draw at Swansea on 19th Nov. Michael Laudrup demanded an apology and Madley was dropped from Premier League action, returning for Hull’s 6-0 thumping of Fulham on 28th Dec. Hopefully he’ll be particularly careful not to favour the Potters again.
3. Will the January transfer window have an impact?
Sunderland have two new Argentinians in the ranks (possibly three if we can get everything finalised for Nacho man!) but only our new centre-back Vergini has a realistic chance of making an appearance alongside fellow January transfer addition; Spanish loan full-back Alonso.
Stoke meanwhile have brought in a player no stranger to Sunderland transfer rumours with the loan of John Guidetti. The Man City reserve seems to be one of those players who gets better the longer he’s not actually playing. A great prospect by all accounts but yet to feature in the Prem. Seems a bit of a character too and has already spoken out about his anger at being left out of the starting line-up for Stoke’s loss to Chelsea in the FA cup on Sat. Stoke have just finalised a swap deal between their out-of-favour Caribbean King Kenwyne Jones and Cardiff’s car park tourist Peter Odemwingie so he could feature, probably from the bench.
So who will have the edge on Weds night: Sunderland’s new defensive recruits or Stoke new attacking options?