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Preview: Cats On Prowl To Plunder Ailing Bluebirds

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Sunderland head to crisis-club Cardiff with the whiff of opportunity in their nostrils.

Paul Thomas

Sunderland Team News

Gus Poyet will take a long look at the energy levels of his squad after a colossal effort at Goodison Park on boxing day.

At the back there appears to be little scope to freshen things up, with John O'Shea and Carlos Cuellar struggling with injury and Wes Brown suspended. Andrea Dossena may offer the only possible fresh legs, and whether or not his legs even have a 'fresh' setting is debatable.

Further forward there is much more scope for change. Poyet may feel tempted to bring in Emanuele Giaccherini, Adam Johnson and Jozy Altidore, with none playing more than 20 minutes at Everton.

Cardiff City Team News

The beleaguered Bluebirds should welcome back flu-victim Gary Medel for this one, but will once again be without Craig Bellamy.

Fellow- summer signing Adreas Cornelius is pushing for inclusion, though whether or not the Dane will get the nod over former Sunderland striker Fraizer Campbell or perpetual Sunderland bogey-man Peter Odemwingie reamins to be seen.

Predicted Line-Ups

<a href="http://sharemytactics.com/4344/" title="Click to view tactic"><img src="http://sharemytactics.com/4344/Sunderland-Cardiff-formation-tactics.png" alt="Sunderland vs Cardiff - Football tactics and formations" /></a>

Cardiff: Marshall; Théophile-Catherine, Turner, Caulker, Taylor; Noone, Medel, Mutch, Whittingham; Campbell, Odemwingie

Sunderland: Mannone; Bardsley, Diakite, Roberge, Dossena; Cattermole; Ki; Larsson; Giaccherini, Altidore, Johnson

Key Match-Up: Defence vs Whittingham Set Pieces

Cardiff do carry individual threat but none more so than Peter Whittingham's often deadly set piece delivery. The former Villa man whips the ball into dangerous areas with both pace and accuracy, and if Sunderland are to keep their current run of clean sheets going, they will need Diakite and co to be at their best.

Recent Form: LDLWLL

Loss: Cardiff 0-3 Arsenal (Ramsey 2, Flamini)

Draw: Stoke 0-0 Cardiff

Loss: Crystal Palace 2-0 Cardiff (Jerome, Chamakh)

Win: Cardiff 1-0 West Brom (Whittingham)

Loss: Liverpool 3-1 Cardiff (Suarez 2, Sterling; Mutch)

Loss: Cardiff 0-3 Southampton (Rodriguez 2, Lambert)

Last Time Around: Cardiff City 0-1 Sunderland, 31,3,2007

The Roy Keane inspired Sunderland juggernaut stomped over Cardiff during the stunning run of form that secured the 2007 Championship title. That game took place at Ninian Park though, making this upcoming clash Sunderland's first league visit to The Cardiff City Stadium.

It was Ross Wallace who nabbed the winner, by the way. He probably took off his shirt afterwards. We can't remember.

The Ref: Chris Foy

The veteran will take charge of Sunderland for just the second time this season having officiated the 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United.

So far this campaign he has generally kept his red card in his pocket, brandishing it only once. However, he has awarded 4 penalties in his 10 games so far.

What The Managers (And Someone Else) Said

Gus Poyet

The fact is we keep having opportunities against the teams around us, but we keep letting ourselves down - we don't score from two yards or whatever.

So it has to change, starting against Cardiff City and on the first against Aston Villa.

It has to change - the mentality. No more excuses.

We are a difficult team to beat, but we have to do it consistently.

(Not) Vincent Tan

Terror is only justice: prompt, severe and inflexible.

Roker Report Predicts

I'd love to think Sunderland could record another win here, but this is Sunderland and capitalising on good results isn't really something that we excel at.

Add in the fact that Cardiff are 'in crisis' and desperate for a result, and it all kind of points towards a typically depressing Sunderland implosion. That said, I'm an optimist so I'll plump for a 1-1 draw.