Sunderland Team News
Gus Poyet appears to be somewhat nearer to knowing his favored team in recent weeks, and it looks like a pretty straight-forward lineup for him to select this weekend against Norwich City.
Vito Mannone will no doubt continue in goal, sat behind a defence of Phil Bardsley, John O'Shea, Wes Brown and we expect Ondrej Celustka.
Andrea Dossena, it would be fair to say isn't the fittest of blokes, and having just completed 120 minutes mid-week against Chelsea, another 90 minutes against Norwich could be a big ask, so we think Bardsley will go to left-back with Celustka at right-back.
The midfield will no doubt consist of a resurgent Lee Cattermole sitting, Ki Sung-Yeung and Jack Colback if he's recovered from illness. Seb Larsson ran himself into the ground against Chelsea and could do with a game on the bench.
Out wide look for Emanuele Giaccherini on one side with Fabio Borini on the other. The younger of the Italians seemed to do enough to earn a starting role with a goal and an assist from the bench against Chelsea.
Jozy Altidore will likely continue in attack, although Steven Fletcher should return to the bench.
Norwich City Team News
Chris Hughton has a couple of injuries to concern himself with for tomorrow's game, notably with Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, Anthony Pilkington, Alexander Tettey and Robert Snodgrass all set to miss out with knocks.
They did however miss this foursome last time out against Swansea and grabbed a 1-1 draw with the Welsh side.
This means John Ruddy will be in goal, sat behind a defence that includes Steven Whittaker, Michael Turner, Sebastian Bassong and Martin Olsson.
The midfield will likely be a hybrid of a 4-4-2 and 4-5-1. Nathan Redmond and Leroy Fer out wide with Jonny Howson and Bradley Johnson in the middle.
Expect to see Johan Elmander support Gary Hooper in attack.
Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley, Celustka, Brown, O'Shea, Cattermole, Ki, Colback, Giaccherini, Borini, Altidore
Norwich City: Ruddy, Whittaker, Bassong, Turner, Olsson, Johnson, Howson, Fer, Redmond, Elmander, Hooper
Key Matchup: Lee Cattermole Vs Leroy Fer
Whilst a lot of the hubbub was about Ricky Van Wolfswinkel this summer, it's been Fer who has caught the eye for the Canaries.
It's likely Cattermole will be sat in front of the defence again, and while I fancy Brown and O'Shea to look after Hooper and Elmander with relative ease, it's going to be down to Cattermole to keep an eye on the talented Fer, who will be looking to join the attack at every available opportunity.
Recent Form: WLWLWD
Won: Norwich City 3-1 West Ham United (Morrison 32, Hooper pen 54, Snodgrass 72, Fer 90)
Lost: Newcastle United 2-1 Norwich City (Remy 2, Gouffran 38, Fer 80)
Won: Norwich City 1-0 Crystal Palace (Hooper 30)
Lost: Liverpool 5-1 Norwich City (Suarez 15, 29, 35, 74, Johnson 83, Sterling 88)
Won: West Bromwich Albion 0-2 Norwich City (Hooper 13, Fer 89)
Drawn: Norwich City 1-1 Swansea City (Dyer 12, Hooper 45)
Last Time Around: Sunderland 1-1 Norwich City, 17/03/2013
Just this year was the last time we faced Norwich at home, and it was an incredibly dismal day. Something we'll be looking to avoid this time around.
After Wes Hoolahan's opener things looked like they'd take a turn for the worst as Sunderland failed to show any fight back.
When Mark Bunn was sent off in the first half a real opportunity presented itself, which wasn't taken until Craig Gardner fired in a penalty.
Unfortunately from then on we never looked like threatening. Sunderland looked second best throughout to a side with a man less. Dear God, I hope it's not so bad this time around.
The Ref: Martin Atkinson
Martin Atkinson takes control of his 12th Premier League match of the season with us this weekend, and his second involving Sunderland having refereed the 3-1 home defeat against Arsenal.
This season Atkinson has been relatively lenient, dishing out around 2-3 yellow cards per game but yet to dish out a red in any competition in which he's officiated. He has however given four penalties.
Sunderland are actually one his most officiated teams in his career, taking charge of 28 games with mixed results -- 7 wins, 10 draws and 11 defeats. On the plus side he's also given us 4 penalties, and never given one against.
What The Managers Said
I want to transform the mentality of this group of players, I want them to become winners.
It doesn't matter about our position, we just need to be ourselves, play the way that we play and keep going non-stop for 90 minutes.
It doesn't matter who you play against, if it's Norwich or if it's Carlisle in the FA Cup, the more we do it, the more difficult we are going to become to play against, I am sure.
We're in a good run at the moment, albeit we have had bad results mixed in. It goes without saying there is a group of teams you expect to be in that top seven or eight and a bigger group who fall outside that who can all beat each other. I see that continuing through the season.
People regularly ask me about the fixtures and what they perceive to be a tougher or easier run. I always look at the next one in front of me. You only have to look at some of the results in this division and if you were a betting man there are so many results that have gone against the odds. If you can get results from those around you it denies them points.
Roker Report Predicts
It's an absolute must win for Sunderland, and following the Capital One Cup triumph over Chelsea, I think there'll be a spring in the step of the home side and they'll triumph to keep us within touching distance of safety. A narrow win for the home side will be our prediction. 2-0 or 2-1, and for some reason I fancy Jozy Altidore to have a big hand in things.