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Preview: Black Cats Looking To Be Winners, Not Saints

Sunderland embark on a trip down south after the international break. We look ahead to Saturday's Premier League meeting with Southampton.

Nigel Roddis

Sunderland Team News

Prior to the international break, Gus Poyet confirmed that Emanuele Giaccherini, Ricky Alvarez and Sebastian Coates would all miss the trip to the south coast, but the Sunderland boss still has decisions to make over his midfield composition.

Having dropped Adam Johnson and Jack Rodwell last time out, both may be recalled, with Connor Wickham adding attacking impetus from the left-hand side as he did against Stoke City.

Billy Jones is out with a hamstring injury, so Wes Brown will return to the side with Santiago Vergini reverting to full back.

Southampton Team News

Ronald Koeman could retain the team he played against Tottenham Hotspur last time out, although Saido Mane's return from international duty may prove to be at short notice as Koeman prepares for Saturday's game. Shane Long - who started against Queens Park Rangers but was an unused substitute for Republic of Ireland in midweek - could well deputise.

Maya Yoshida has to overcome a foot injury if he is to compete for a starting spot at centre-back, however James Rodriguez and James Ward-Prowse have more severe injuries.

Predicted Lineups

Southampton vs Sunderland - Football tactics and formations

Sunderland: Mannone; Vergini, O'Shea, Brown, van Aaholt; Cattermole; Johnson, Larsson, Rodwell, Wickham; Fletcher

Southampton: Forster; Clyne, Fonte, Alderweireld, Bertrand; Davis, Wanyama, Schneiderlein; Long, Pelle, Tadic

Key Matchup: Wes Brown vs Graziano Pelle

Sunderland and defending are not usually grateful bedfellows, but there is no questioning that Brown remains the clubs best natural defender.

Last Time Around: Southampton 1-1 Sunderland, 24/08/13

In a rare moment of capability from Paolo Di Canio's reign, Emanuele Giaccherini's first goal for the club gave his side an early lead. Jose Fonte equalised late on, but not was all lost as the travelling fans were treated to a 90-minute sighting of Modibo Diakite.

The Ref: Andre Marriner

This will be the first Premier League game that the West Midlands man will be in charge of this season.

He had a mixed record involving Sunderland last season - overseeing the 2-1 Capital One Cup semi-final first leg win over Manchester United, with the blemish being the decision to send Lee Cattermole off at Hull City.

What The Managers Said

Gus Poyet

They lost many players [in the summer] and brought in new ones, who have adapted well.

It's easier to adapt to a new league when you are winning and that's what they've been doing.

They are an organised side who are difficult to beat; we need to be good and brave and play the game to our best. I think it will be a good game to watch.

Ronald Koeman

Every season is not always the same. It is difficult to beat them as they play out of good organisation and are strong and physical in defence, but we have to be ready for that.

They have played seven times so far, lost one, won one and had five draws. Sometimes they have problems to score goals, but they don't concede many, so it is difficult to beat them.

It will be a tough game at home and we have to be prepared for that. We have to show our qualities, be offensive and score goals, but we understand that it will be difficult.

Roker Report Predicts

Sunderland's recent defensive resiliency will be tested by a fluent and confident Southampton side. Finally getting that first win will be a source of relief for Poyet - as will his strikers finding the net in the process - but building on that result proves to be challenging against a team unbeaten at home so far this season.

Having said that, Sunderland can seek encouragement from recent meetings with Southampton, and signs that Poyet's style is starting to be implemented by new members of the squad. Despite how frustrating the run of draws was, we see this being a closely-contested, well-earned point on the road (1-1).