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Preview: Southampton (H) - Cats Go Looking For Four In A Row

With Sunderland on the Saturday lunchtime slot this weekend, we give you the ins and out ahead of the game with Southampton.

Clive Rose

Sunderland Team News

Gus Poyet will again select from an almost fully-fit squad as only Carlos Cuellar and Keiren Westwood remain sidelined through injury.

Against a team revered for both their pressing and their passing game, Seb Larsson could well be recalled in midfield - potentially another straight swap with Jack Colback - but Poyet is unlikely to tinker too much with the side that convincingly beat Fulham 4-1 at Craven Cottage.

Southampton Team News

The Saints are in similar fettle after Artur Boruc and Guly do Prado returned to the squad in the 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion.

They will, however, have to do without Victor Wanyama due to a calf problem, whilst Pablo Osvaldo is suspended. Jack Cork seems most likely to come in for the former, and ahead of him England hopefuls Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez and Ricky Lambert will be looking to impress once more.

Predicted Lineups

<a href="" title="Click to view tactic"><img src="" alt="Southampton vs Away team - Football tactics and formations" /></a>

Sunderland: Mannone; Bardsley, O'Shea, Brown, Alonso; Cattermole; Johnson, Larsson, Ki, Borini; Fletcher

Southampton: Davis; Clyne, Lovren, Fonte, Shaw; Schneiderlin, Cork; Davis, Lallana, Rodriguez; Lambert

Key Matchup: Ki Syeng-Yeung vs Morgan Schneiderlin

In a game that pits two teams who try to pass the ball and work openings, it is only natural that we focus on the two players who largely orchestrate things for their respective team.

Ki, since moving further forward, has been able to demonstrate his passing prowess far closer to the opposition goal - resulting in a wonderfully incise pass for Adam Johnson's second goal against Fulham. Schneiderlin will operate from a slightly deeper position, at the base of Southampton's midfield, and look to generate quality possession in order to feed those ahead of him.

Whilst it's not quite five paces, draw, and fire, whoever finds their passing rhythm the quickest will give their side the edge.

Recent Form: LWLLWW

Loss: Southampton 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur (Lallana 13, Lambert 59; Adebayor 25, 64, Hooiveld og 54)

Win: Cardiff City 0-3 Southampton (Rodriguez 14, 20, Lambert 27)

Loss: Everton 2-1 Southampton (Coleman 9, Lukaku 74; Ramirez 71)

Loss: Southampton 0-3 Chelsea (Torres 60, Willian 71, Oscar 82)

Win: Southampton 4-3 Burnley (Clyne 22, Lambert 29, Rodriguez 66, Lallana 73; Vokes 51, Ings 57, Long 86)

Win: Southampton 1-0 West Bromwich Albion (Lallana 66)

Last Time Around: Sunderland 1-1 Southampton, 12/05/13

In one of those excruciating end-of-season games last year, Sunderland ground out a point having gone in front through Phil Bardsley.

However, just eight minutes later, the visitors levelled through Jason Puncheon.

We have met the Saints since, in the Capital One Cup, with Bardsley and Seb Larsson scoring to secure a 2-1 win.

The Ref: Chris Foy

Another official that we have quite a damned record against - the last time Sunderland won with the Merseyside man in charge was the 3-0 win over Chelsea in November 2010.

Although in his defence, Sunderland failed spectacularly to capitalise on the red card he showed to Norwich goalkeeper Mark Bunn last season.

What The Manager Said

Gus Poyet

We've shown confidence and have been a little bit calmer in front of goal.

We have been making better decisions in the last part of the field, putting players in front of goal in better positions.

We've been enjoying doing the set plays a lot, and plenty of things are better as well as the defending, shape, things you have to do every week.

Things are coming together and that comes with time.

Mauricio Pochettino

We have to be fully focused on the game on Saturday and as always, to try and get a positive result.

Of course it's a great chance to push on and it's great opportunity for us to get three points, but we're going to playing against a very tough side in a very tough stadium.

We're playing a side that needs points quite a bit at home, and we need the points as well, so we just need to be fully focused with our strengths to get a positive result.

Roker Report Predicts

That our decent run against Southampton (three wins and three draws in the last six meetings) will continue. The game should prove a test on Poyet's belief that Sunderland are calmer in front of goal, as there isn't a great deal between the two teams. A slender 2-1 home win is what we're rooting for.

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