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Aston Villa vs. Sunderland: Poyet Looking For Reaction

Right, let's just pretend that Hull rubbish never happened, yeah?

Clive Mason/Getty Images

Sunderland team news

After two games in four days, Gus Poyet may elect to rotate his side slightly to freshen up the legs for the trip to Aston Villa. Fit-again Emanuele Giaccherini may return to midfield, and Jack Rodwell is also pushing for a start.

Elsewhere, Connor Wickham and Wes Brown will probably return after suspensions and being rested respectively.

Aston Villa team news

Gabby Agbonlahor is suspended after he picked up his fifth booking of the season at Swansea. Former Sunderland midfielder Kieran Richardson is also banned, while Ashley Westwood, Philippe Senderos, Nathan Baker, Libor Kozak and Joe Cole are all injured.

Predicted line-up

Sunderland - Football tactics and formations

Key match-up: Wes Brown v Christian Benteke

You look at the Aston Villa side and it's never tough to identify the real danger man. Benteke is their stand-out player and one who has punished us before. Hopefully a fresh Wes Brown will be able to keep the Belgian under wraps.

Recent form: WWLDL

Win: Crystal Palace 0-1 Aston Villa (Benteke)

Win: Aston Villa 2-1 Leicester (Clark, Hutton)

Loss: WBA 1-0 Aston Villa

Draw: Aston Villa 1-1 Manchester United (Benteke)

Loss: Swansea City 1-0 Aston Villa

Last time around: Aston Villa 0-0 Sunderland (30/11/2014)

This game happened... I'm sure it did. I mean, it's in the record books and stuff. There are even reports about it. I might have written one myself. At some point though, I think everyone involved just made an agreement to never speak of it again.

The ref: Martin Atkinson

He's not Andre Marriner. Let's just take a brief moment to rejoice about that.

What the managers said

Gus Poyet

I've been in England for a long time and I know that Boxing Day games are a tradition and I accept that and think we should maintain it.

But I think that then playing on the 28th is a disgrace. We shouldn't be playing then, we shouldn't.

If you want to see the best players performing well, you need to make sure you are not playing every two days.

It is not needed. That is not tradition and anyone who says it is, is not telling the truth.

Paul Lambert

History tells you in years gone by you have to earn the right to stay in the league regardless how big your name is or how big the club is.

Take out that top six big clubs and everybody fights like anything to stay in the league.

Sunderland for some reason have been down there for the past few years but it doesn't matter how big the club is, it's earning the right to stay in it.

Roker Report predicts

It was 0-0 last season and it's tough to see many goals this time around either. I'll go for an equally dull 0-0 this season too.