This Sunderland-Manchester City clash is one of the major ‘bottom vs top’ match that are crucial to one teams season. Sunderland are in the relegation zone and would be willing to do just about anything to get themselves out of that spot.
While a point for Sunderland would be great for them, the Citizens will certainly be hoping to get the three points and move ahead of Leicester City to the top of the Premier League table, something that would please outgoing manager Manuel Pellegrini.
Sam Allardyce: The Repo Man
Big Sam is known for one thing, and one thing only — getting relegation threatened teams out of the drop zone (by hook or by crook). Allardyce has gotten the likes of Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers, and West Ham United out of sticky spots, and has the amazing record of never having to see his own team being relegated, while he was in charge of the dugouts.
However, as one of the wise men once said, all records are there to be broken, the 61-year-old would be fully aware of the fact that his past record does not guarantee success in the current season. He would be looking for points from any and every game that Sunderland plays and a result against City could charge up the spirits in the Sunderland dressing room, as we head into one of the most crucial parts of the season.
Manuel Pellegrini: The Transitioner
Manchester City’s fateful announcement of Pep Guardiola as their new manager for the 2016/17 season seems to be a bit harsh on Manuel Pellegrini, but that is how football is. The Citizens are currently in the running for all four trophies — League Cup, Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League.
It would indeed be a remarkable achievement if Pellegrini can do the quadruple this season, but what would be even more astonishing than that is the fact that the Chilean would be leaving the club at the end of the season, even if he wins multiple trophies.
However, that is what is expected of Pellegrini right now, and he would be trying to go out of the team with his head held as high as possible…and possibly with a couple of trophies in his kitty.
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Jermain Defoe vs. Nicolas Otamendi and Martin Demichelis
The Manchester City defence has been as weak as it has ever been in recent years, and in Jermain Defoe, Sunderland have someone who can create a few opportunities for the Black Cats. Being an agile striker who has a knack for finding spaces in the attacking third, Defoe would be constantly looking to run at the two centrebacks, who have been markedly slow.
Also, Defoe could be targeting Demichelis, as his age seems to be catching up with him. With Lens, and Johnson playing him through, Defoe could wreak havoc in the City defence. However, the Manchester City defenders also need to cooperate well with each other and not drop back too deep, which would give the Sunderland attackers a lot of space.
Yann M’Villa vs. Yaya Toure
This should be a cracker of an encounter between the two big midfield generals on the pitch. Both of them are crucial for their respective teams and would have to do a lot of work for their team to get a favourable result out of the game.
M’Villa is expected to do most of the defending between the two but, being the box-to-box midfielder that Toure is, the Ivorian would also have to do a lot of running to keep his Sunderland counterpart in check in this match.
John O’Shea and Wes Brown vs. Sergio Aguero
The Argentine seems to be back in form after getting back to full fitness. Although he has been troubled by injuries this season, Aguero has still been his usual effective self when he is fully fit. Like any other defence, both Wes Brown and John O’Shea would be quaking in their boots when they see the Argentine squaring up against them.
Aguero would be looking to get the best out of the two former Manchester United center backs with his trickery on the ball and pace off it. It would be interesting to see how the two defenders mark him, as the little Argentine tries to run the channels between the defenders.
- Sunderland are not a side that gives up easily, and they are known for making dramatic comebacks. Manchester City have to always be on their guard, as they try to get a win at the Stadium of Light.
- Cattermole, M’Villa, and Johnson are all more than capable of playing Defoe through on goal with long balls, and this could really hurt a rather slow Manchester City defence.
- The Black Cats have some big lads in their team, in the form of O’Shea, Brown, and M’Villa. Sunderland would be looking to exploit their height, in order to hurt City through set pieces.
- Sunderland are really poor at defending against pacey wingers, and this could hurt them quite a lot, as both Raheem Sterling and Jesus Navas are extremely fast down the flanks.
- Keeping hold of the ball is something that the Black Cats are not good at, and they are expected to concede a lot of possession to Manchester City.
- Another aspect of lacking pace in defence is that Sunderland would have difficulty in defending through balls.
Manchester City FC
- While Sunderland are weak at defending wingplay, Manchester City are experts at attacking down the wings, with quality players like Sterling and Navas operating on the flanks.
- In Sergio Aguero, Manchester City have one of the best finishers in the world, and they would put away even the few half chances that they get.
- The Cityzens also have a lot of potent long shooters in their team, and Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone is likely to have a difficult time.
- The Manchester City defence has a tendency to fall back too often and this gives a lot of space to the opposition attackers to work with.
- Another chink in their defensice armour is that Manchester City try to play their opponents offside at the 18-yard box, something that has backfired a lot.
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