Kick Off: 15:00pm, 30th April 2016
Venue: Britannia Stadium, Stoke-On-Trent
Last Season: Stoke 1-1 Sunderland
Dafabet Odds: Stoke: 17/10 Sunderland: 7/4 Draw: 21/10 - Click here for more offers!
Lets be honest, if we look at the rest of the games that we have left you'd imagine that taking on an out of form Stoke City side is probably the most winnable of all the remaining fixtures - if there is any such thing as a 'winnable' game in the Premier League any more.
The fact I'm thinking this way worries me, because I deal with the pressure of going into a huge match far better when we're the underdogs and, even with Stoke sat well ahead of us, it would be fair to say that we are the favourites going into the match, despite being an away side that are much further down the table.
We've been far better recently than we have been all season, and even when we aren't winning games we are playing and defending well. Coming into decent form at this stage of the season is all well and good but if you aren't winning games it doesn't mean alot, especially considering that Newcastle's next two games are against Crystal Palace and Aston Villa.
It's in our hands, but only just. There are so many variables though, even with just a few games left to play. A win for us and a Newcastle loss would make salvation incredibly difficult for our local rivals, but consider this - we lose, they win, and they have to play Villa next week whilst we have Chelsea. It doesn't sound so great, does it?
I guess my point is that we can't get too carried away. We must focus all our energy on beating Stoke, and then re-evaluate once that game is over with. So much can change between now and then, but as we talk today things are very much still in our favour - we are out of the bottom three. We have a game in hand over Newcastle. We still have two home games left to play. Focus on that.
Referee: Craig Pawson
Assistants: M Mullarkey & H Lennard
Fourth Official: R East
Adam Matthews has been ruled out for the rest off the season - other than that, Sunderland can boast a fully fit squad, with Sam Allardyce expected to name an unchanged line up for a fifth successive game.
Shea Given will be given a late fitness test after being forced off last weekend, whilst Jon Walters and Xherdan Shaqiri are set to return to the side.
Glen Johnson and Marc Wilson are both expected to miss out. Ibrahim Afellay and Jack Butland will miss the rest of the season.
Sunderland - DDDLWD
24 Apr 2016 - Sunderland 0-0 Arsenal
16 Apr 2016 - Norwich City 0-3 Sunderland
10 Apr 2016 - Sunderland 0-2 Leicester City
02 Apr 2016 - Sunderland 0-0 West Bromwich Albion
20 Mar 2016 - Newcastle United 1-1 Sunderland
05 Mar 2016 - Southampton 1-1 Sunderland
Stoke - LWDLLL
23 Apr 2016 - Manchester City 4-0 Stoke City
18 Apr 2016 - Stoke City 0-4 Tottenham Hotspur
10 Apr 2016 - Liverpool 4-1 Stoke City
02 Apr 2016 - Stoke City 2-2 Swansea City
19 Mar 2016 - Watford 1-2 Stoke City
12 Mar 2016 - Stoke City 1-2 Southampton
This week we gave a warm welcome to TEAMtalk deputy editor and Stoke City fan Mark Holmes.
Jermain Defoe will certainly fancy himself of getting a chance or two, which worries me. But I fear the commitment of the team as a whole more.
If Sunderland press, chase and harry like they did against Arsenal, which I'm sure they will do, Stoke will have to be much better than they have been recently.
Read more of our interview with Mark here.
Sam Allardyce on his January signings:
I never expected me to be playing Kone, Kirchhoff and Wahbi every week, and on some occasions Dame N’Doye as well. It’s almost been a mini-miracle that they have come from abroad.
Kirchhoff had hardly played for eight to nine months at Bayern Munich, and Dame was bombed out in Turkey for some reason. Kone had been playing very, very well at Lorient and Wahbi had been doing the same at Bordeaux, so the likelihood was that those two would be alright straightaway.
But the other two hadn’t had many games, so for them too all catch up and be as good as they have has been one of the main reasons why we’ve been as good as we have.
This Season's Reverse Fixture
Sunderland 2-2 Stoke - October 30th 1982
Head To Head
28 Nov 2015 - Sunderland 2-0 Stoke City
25 Apr 2015 - Stoke City 1-1 Sunderland
04 Oct 2014 - Sunderland 3-1 Stoke City
29 Jan 2014 - Sunderland 1-0 Stoke City
23 Nov 2013 - Stoke City 2-0 Sunderland
06 May 2013 - Sunderland 1-1 Stoke City
Stats & Facts
- Sunderland have lost just one of their last nine Barclays Premier League meetings with Stoke (W5 D3 L1).
- Sunderland have kept a clean sheet in three of their last four Premier League games, including in each of their last two.
- Stoke have won five and lost just one of their last eight league meetings with Sunderland at home (W5 D2 L1).
- The Black Cats have failed to score in four of their last seven away league trips to Stoke, netting just four goals in total in this period.
- Sunderland have allowed their opponents a league-high 200 shots on target in the Premier League this season.
- Stoke have lost their last three Premier League matches - they haven't lost four in a row since February 2012.
- Stoke's last three Premier League games have seen them concede 12 goals and score just once.
- Jermain Defoe is enjoying his best goalscoring season in the Premier League (13 goals) since 2009-10 at Tottenham Hotspur (18 goals). This is his highest tally of away goals in a single Premier League season, however (10 goals).
- Jack Butland saved 74% of shots this season in the Premier League prior to his injury, but his replacements Shay Given and Jakob Haugaard have saved just 33% of shots combined.
Well in this week's Roker Riches I've placed money on a 2-0 Sunderland win, so I’m going to have to go with that. I feel that though we’ve been poor for much of this season, we finally seem to have stumbled across our best system and team and as tough as Stoke can be on their day, we might just want this more, what with our future as a Premier League club hanging in the balance.