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Preview: Sunderland looking to build on Palace win

Sunderland go hunting for back-to-back wins before the international break but will expect to find a strong Everton side in their path.

Paul Thomas

Sunderland team news

Patrick van Aanholt (shoulder) and Lee Cattermole (suspended) have joined the list of absentees for Gus Poyet's men, but Adam Johnson could be set for a recall to the starting line-up.

In midfield, it looks like Liam Bridcutt and the fit-again Jack Rodwell will be fighting over the right to replace Cattermole, with the former's impressive cameo at Crystal Palace may be giving him a slight edge.

Everton team news

Roberto Martinez will be without Antolin Alcarez for the trip to Wearside, and Gareth Barry and Seamus Coleman are due for late fitness test. Sylvain Distin will return to the side.

Predicted line-ups

Sunderland vs Everton - Football tactics and formations

Key match-up: Liam Bridcutt v Ross Barkley

When written out like that, you start to realise just how big a miss the suspended Lee Cattermole is going to be for Sunderland. Bridcutt was well-schooled in his system by Gus Poyet and he claims he has complete faith in the former-Chelsea youngster at this level, and we may be about to find out just how well-placed that faith is.

Sunderland recent form: LLW

Loss: Southampton (A) 0-8

Loss: Arsenal (H) 0-2

Win: Crystal Palace (A) 3-1

Everton recent form: WDW

Burnley (A) 1-3

Swansea (H) 0-0

Lille (H) 3-0

Last time around: Sunderland 0-1 Everton (12/4/2014)

A late Wes Brown own goal left Sunderland rock bottom, seven points adrift of safety with just five games remaining, and just about everyone resigned to a relegation that never arrived.

The ref: Lee Mason

Mason takes charge of Sunderland for the first time this season, though the Black Cats will be hoping he's a lucky omen having last been the man in the middle on Wearside when last season's great escape was completed against West Browmich Albion.

What the managers said:

Gus Poyet

I think Roberto Martinez has changed it around a little bit. The presence of (Samuel) Eto'o and (Romelu) Lukaku together has been impressive.

We know we were very close last year. We only lost through an own goal.

For long periods we were the better team and we need to show that, while making sure we get three points.

Roberto Martinez

We go to the Stadium of Light with a lot of respect but knowing this is a very very important game.

I think we've played a lot better this season than this stage last year. We can score goals, we're getting sharp in that respect. Defensively, some of the aspects of our play cost us points, but now we've only conceded something like one goal in five games and we are fresh - that will be important for the season.

Roker Report predicts

Sunderland don't really do back-to-back Premier League wins, do we? I mean, we did around April and May, but that just means we've already had our quota for 2014.

Let's go with a 1-1 draw.