Each week it seems we are saying the same thing, that this is 'the most important game of our season thus far', but when you think about it, this really is. Bournemouth can be credited with having a fairly successful season when you analyse just what they've had stacked against them - losing key players in the opening weeks of this campaign - but they aren't safe yet, and simply cannot afford to lose.
Sunderland, on the other hand, are becoming increasingly reliant on other teams losing games and the fact of the matter is that when we tend to lose, we lose badly, whilst the other teams around us seem to be collecting points in games that they aren't expected to. In years gone by we've relied upon beating Newcastle and a handful of shock results against top six sides, but our inability to hold a lead against better teams has badly affected our goal difference and should be stay up this season it'll be picking up wins in home games against sides like Bournemouth that will see us stay afloat.
Kick Off Saturday 23rd of January, 3pm
Venue Stadium Of Light
Last Season N/A
Odds H 2/1 A 29/20 D 11/5
Referee Roger East
Assistants S Burt & D Eaton
Fourth Official A Madley
Although he's nearing a return to fitness it's not expected that Younes Kaboul will play any part this weekend. Despite a midweek run out against Sheffield United at the Academy of Light, Adam Mathews is unlikely to be involved, with the player expected to leave on loan over the coming week.
Jan Kirchhoff played in the centre of midfield against Sheffield United and scored, so Sam Allardyce may choose to start him - that said, his horror show at White Hart Lane should indicate that he perhaps needs more time to adapt.
Dame N'Doye has trained all week with the first team and is available for selection for the first time since arriving at the club.
Tyrone Mings, Max Gradel and Callum Wilson remain long-term casualties. Lewis Grabban could play a part having missed their last game due to illness, whilst Matt Ritchie is unexpected to return as he continues to rehab a thigh injury which has seen him miss out recently - after his goal against us earlier in the season at Dean Court, it's welcome news.
16 Jan 2016 - Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 Sunderland
13 Jan 2016 - Swansea City 2-4 Sunderland
02 Jan 2016 - Sunderland 3-1 Aston Villa
30 Dec 2015 - Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool
26 Dec 2015 - Manchester City 4-1 Sunderland
19 Dec 2015 - Chelsea 3-1 Sunderland
16 Jan 2016 - AFC Bournemouth 3-0 Norwich City
12 Jan 2016 - AFC Bournemouth 1-3 West Ham United
02 Jan 2016 - Leicester City 0-0 AFC Bournemouth
28 Dec 2015 - Arsenal 2-0 AFC Bournemouth
26 Dec 2015 - AFC Bournemouth 0-0 Crystal Palace
19 Dec 2015 - West Bromwich Albion 1-2 AFC Bournemouth
Fan Focus - Bournemouth Fan Dave:
With the way this season is going, with a lot of teams taking points away from each other, I think it'll take more than point per game to avoid relegation this season, but I have limited knowledge on the fight at the bottom of the Premier League.
On to the weekend - and after taking the three points at home to Norwich, who are also down in the mix with yourselves and AFC Bournemouth - it would be very nice to pick up another win and put a bit of distance between ourselves and the bottom three. But, for the exact same reasons as you mention, it's just as important not to surrender three points to Sunderland. A win is important, but it's not as important as avoiding defeat.
Read more of our interview with Dave here.
Our big-game mentality will come into play again when we face Bournemouth; it was like that against Aston Villa and Swansea City so we hope we can keep that mentality going.
When we've needed that result we've pulled it off and we certainly need that next week against a team that is in and around us.
This Season's Reverse Fixture
Head To Head
19 Sep 2015 - AFC Bournemouth 2-0 Sunderland
17 Mar 1990 - AFC Bournemouth 0-1 Sunderland
07 Nov 1989 - AFC Bournemouth 0-1 Sunderland
24 Oct 1989 - Sunderland 1-1 AFC Bournemouth
07 Oct 1989 - Sunderland 3-1 AFC Bournemouth
21 Jan 1989 - AFC Bournemouth 0-1 Sunderland
27 Aug 1988 - Sunderland 1-1 AFC Bournemouth
Stats & Facts
- Sunderland have lost just one of the last seven meetings with Bournemouth in all competitions (W4 D2 L1), that defeat coming earlier this season on the south coast.
- The Black Cats have won three of the six Barclays Premier League home games played under Sam Allardyce. They won just three of the previous nineteen at home before his arrival.
- The Cherries have lost just one of their last five Premier League games on the road (W2 D2 L1).
- Jermain Defoe has scored more Premier League goals in 2016 than any other player so far (5).
- Adam Johnson has already equaled his highest tally of assists in a single Premier League season (six, alongside 2012-13) so far this campaign in just sixteen appearances.
- Sunderland have allowed their opponents a league-high 140 shots on target this season; 22 more than any other team.
- Sunderland have conceded the most penalties in the Premier League this season (7).
- Bournemouth have scored the most goals in the opening fifteen minutes of Premier League games this season (7).
- Sunderland have conceded the most goals in the opening fifteen minutes of Premier League games this season (8).
I think we'll bounce back from defeat last week at Spurs with a win in a high-scoring but close game. We've got goals in us but I'm still not confident in our defence, so expect the usual hairy moments at the back. That said, I think it will end as a 3-2 victory for Sunderland.