Sunderland’s home and away record has been chalk and cheese in recent weeks.
Whilst the Black Cats are winless in five matches on their travels, at the Stadium of Light it’s a completely different story with Tony Mowbray’s side winning three of their last four matches.
After losing 2-0 at Plymouth Argyle on Saturday, they must now respond at home to strugglers Huddersfield Town, who haven’t tasted victory in six matches.
Following that abject performance against the Pilgrims, Mowbray is expected to freshen up proceedings and rest some of his tired legs.
Here’s how Sunderland could line up against Huddersfield tomorrow night, with two changes anticipated from the weekend defeat.
GK – Anthony Patterson
With only youngster Nathan Bishop posing a challenge to his spot in the team, it would take something drastic for Anthony Patterson to be dropped. He’s played in all 17 Championship fixtures this term and the 23-year-old has kept five clean sheets.
RB – Trai Hume
Whilst Jack Clarke will take the plaudits for his devastating form, Trai Hume has quietly been one of Sunderland’s best players this season. The “brilliant” youngster, as dubbed by defensive partner Daniel Ballard, has created a whopping four big chances from right-back this term while impressing with his ability to defend, garnering a duel success rate of 62%.
CB – Luke O’Nien
Although his side slipped to a disappointing 2-0 defeat on Saturday, O’Nien still stood out in the heart of defence, showcasing his ability as a ball-playing defender and a monster in the tackle. He accurately placed 90 of his 101 passes (89%), five of his ten attempted long balls and won both of his ground duels. Such performances will unlikely see him get dropped anytime soon.
CB – Daniel Ballard
Dan Ballard’s presence as a colossal figure in Sunderland’s back line continues to grow. The 24-year-old demonstrated his monstrous physical attributes against Plymouth, winning a whopping ten of his 12 aerial duels and four of his five tackles. The former Arsenal man is no stranger to such domineering performances, he’s been bullying opposition attackers all season long.
LB – Niall Huggins
Huggins is a driving force down the left flank and the youngster has all the ingredients in his locker to become a top defender.
The 23-year-old, who has featured in 14 Championship matches this term, has won an impressive 64% of his duels, ranked in the top 7% against his position peers in the division for successful take-ons and top 8% for pass completion, underlining his sensational defensive and attacking attributes.
CDM – Pierre Ekwah
Pierre Ekwah is the glue that holds the midfield together. When surrounded by an array of technical stars – like Rodri is for Manchester City – you need someone who is going to run through brick walls for the team and fly into tackles. Ekwah has showcased his tremendous talent as a holding midfielder by recovering 5.4 balls and 1.8 tackles per game.
RM – Patrick Roberts
Hailed as “magic” by Mowbray, Roberts’ wand of a left foot is capable of conjuring up brilliance and while only one assist in 15 Championship games suggests he’s lacking an end product, other parts of his game have flourished.
The one-time Celtic star ranks in the top 2% against his positional peers in the division for progressive carries, successful take-ons and touches in the attacking penalty box. If he continues delivering such a threat down the right flank, the goal contributions will follow.
CM – Dan Neil
A playmaker in advanced areas for Sunderland, Neil’s exquisite passing range – once likened to Manchester United legend Michael Carrick – has been used to unlock defences all season long. With 8.67 progressive carries per 90, three big chances created and two assists, the 21-year-old offers so much creativity and that will be needed in abundance against Huddersfield’s low block.
CM – Adil Aouchiche
With Jobe Bellingham in need of a rest after starting every Championship game this term, attacking midfielder Aouchiche – who was once dubbed a “wonderful talent” by Jacek Kulig – should be in line to make his first start this evening.
The £7k per-week starlet replaced Ekwah at half-time on Saturday as Mowbray attempted to go more attacking with the Frenchman sprinkling some quality onto proceedings, recording an impressive four key passes and five accurate long balls.
LM – Jack Clarke
An unstoppable force down the left flank, who possesses the pace, skill and guile to unlock defences, Clarke’s name needs no introduction. Since the departure of Ross Stewart in the summer, he’s become Sunderland’s talisman with nine goals in 17 appearances and will cause destruction down Huddersfield’s right flank if they afford him space and time.
ST – Bradley Dack
Sunderland have endured a nightmare in the striker department this term and this was encapsulated by Naziriy Rusyn’s performance on Saturday, with the Ukraine frontman only making 12 touches in his 45 minutes on the pitch.
Mowbray must bench Sunderland man who only had 12 touches v Plymouth
This Sunderland player will be worried about his first team future after a poor performance in the 2-0 loss to Plymouth.
He was taken off for 18-year-old Eliezer Mayenda, however, Mowbray could opt to choose Bradley Dack in that position tonight. He has technical brilliance in his locker to drop deep against a low block and spray passes out to Roberts and Clarke while possessing the clinical edge to finish off chances.
Sunderland predicted lineup in full vs Huddersfield: GK – Patterson; RB – Hume, CB – O’Nien, CB – Ballard, LB – Huggins; CDM – Ekwah, RM – Roberts, CM – Neil, CM – Aouchiche, LM – Clarke; ST – Dack