Preview: Much More Than A Dress Rehearsal

Michael Regan

Sunderland travel to Manchester City in what is being billed as a preview of the upcoming Capital One Cup Final. However with a vital three points up for grabs, neither side will be looking ahead to their trip to Wembley just yet

Sunderland Team News

Gus Poyet will once again be without the services of long-term absentees Keiren Westwood and Carlos Cuellar while Steven Fletcher is also still unlikely to feature following his prolonged Achilles injury and a recent debate over the possibility of surgery for the Scot.

Wes Brown is also set for a spell on the sidelines following his dismissal at the weekend in the defeat to Hull.

Gus Poyet has also been talking up playing both Liam Bridcutt and Lee Cattermole in the same central midfield three, something we may well see later tonight.

Manchester City Team News

The home side are likely to be without Fernandinho, Samir Nasri and the influential Segio Aguero with the trio sidelined through injury.

However, rather unfortunately from a Sunderland point-of-view, Yaya Toure managed to escape a suspension following a petulant kick-out at Norwich's Ricky Van Wolfswinkel during his side's disappointing draw at the weekend.

Predicted Lineups

Manchester City vs Sunderland - Football tactics and formations

Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley, O'Shea, Vergini, Alonso, Cattermole, Bridcutt, Ki, Johnson, Borini, Altidore

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastsic, Kolarov, Navas, Toure, Demichelis, Silva, Negredo, Dzeko

Key Matchup: David Silva Vs Sunderland

With both Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero both out for the hosts a lot of responsibility will rest on the talented David Silva to pull the strings for Manuel Pellegrini's side. The diminutive play-maker is capable of causing all kinds of trouble for even the best of defences and Sunderland's reshuffled back line, along with the likes of Liam Bridcutt, will have to be at their best to keep Silva and in turn Manchester City quiet.

A nod should also been given to Adam Johnson and the role he is set to play against his former side. The wideman has been in inspired form of late and looks to be a player reinvigorated and enjoying the responsibility he has been assigned under Poyet of late.

Recent Form: WWWWLD

Win: Manchester City 4-2 Cardiff City (Dzeko 14, Navas 33, Toure 76, Aguero 79; Noone 29, Campbell 90)

Win: West Ham 0-3 Manchester City (Negredo 3, 24, 59)

Win: Manchester City 4-2 Watford (Forestieri 20, Deeney 29; Aguero 59, 78, 90, Kolarov 86)

Win: Tottenham 1-5 Manchester City (Aguero 15, Toure 51, Dzeko 53, Jovetic 78, Kompany 89; Capoue 59)

Loss: Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea (Ivanovic 32)

Draw: Norwich City 0-0 Manchester City

Last Time Around: Manchester City 3-0 Sunderland, 06/10/2013

Manchester City cruised to success in our last meeting at the Etihad Stadium back in October of last year, crushing us by three goals.

Aleksander Kolarov got things going after just five minutes before Sergio Aguero and James Milner added to things in the second half, and complete a relatively routine victory.

Interesting little fact, only eight of the eighteen in the matchday squad that day for Sunderland are still at the club, with only John O'Shea and Adam Johnson current starters.

The Ref: Lee Probert

Lee Probert dons the black shirt later this evening and has already officiated three games involving Sunderland this season, including the early season defeat at Crystal Palace, the 2-1 derby win over Newcastle at the Stadium of Light and most recently the hoodoo breaking victory at Goodison Park on Boxing Day.

Probert has overseen nineteen games this season and has dished out thirty-two yellow cards and five red cards - two of which have came in fixtures involving the lads.

What The Managers Said

Gus Poyet

Speaking on the possibility of playing both Lee Cattermole and Liam Bridcutt in the same side:

I know how important Lee is for us and how much he will share the role with Liam.

Or as we said at the beginning, can Lee and Ki play together?

Well, can Liam and Lee play together? I'm sure there is going to be a game.

The Uruguayan is also confident that Santiago Vergini can capitalise on his opportunity in the heart of Sunderland's defence in the absence of the suspended Wes Brown:

It is good for Santiago. He has been waiting for his chance. He was involved in most things on Saturday and he was all right.

It is an opportunity, we always say be ready and you need to be ready after five minutes as he found.

It is easier for defenders the way they play, seeing danger, being good in the air which you need in England. You need to ready for that kind of action. I am sure he is surprised it has come round but he needs to be ready.

Manuel Pellegrini

Speaking on Manchester City's uncharacteristic barren spell in-front of goal:

I am not concerned. In these two games, (Alvaro) Negredo was not 100 per cent, (Edin) Dzeko was not 100 per cent and Aguero was not available.

I suppose in the future, we will continue to score goals. I hope we will continue doing it but it is not easy.

On Wednesday we have a match with a good team that are playing well in the last five or six games.

I am absolutely sure we will have to play a very good game if we want to win.

Roker Report Predicts

Let's face it, despite a fantastic win in the reverse fixture, Manchester City will be looking to put right some recent "iffy" performances and return to the form which has seen them become an absolute juggernaut at the Etihad earlier this season.

I can see the lads grabbing a goal but, unfortunately, I can see City grabbing at least two - I hope I'm wrong

Manchester City 2-1 Sunderland

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