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Match Preview: Sunderland v Everton - Moyes' Mackems Searching For First Three Points

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Played three, lost two, drawn one, won none - Sunderland have to start winning games if we are to kick-start our faltering season, but will that first win come tonight against quality opposition in Everton? Vote for what you think the result will be in the poll below the article.

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Neutrals would probably look at this game as an ideal opportunity for Everton to take three points from us - the fact the Toffees are better priced by the bookies than we are, despite being the away team, displays this - but in my mind I really do feel like this is a game that we can win.

I know, I know... we've seen virtually nothing thus far to show that this team is capable of beating quality opposition, but for some reason I feel our confidence must surely improve tenfold when looking around the dressing room and seeing players that have returned from injury and new signings. Tonight, for the first time this season, David Moyes has something of a squad to pick from and my hope is that we see a more balanced, resolute Sunderland that is perhaps a better reflection of what a David Moyes team looks and plays like.

It does of course hinge on which players Moyes selects. Even though Jan Kirchhoff and Didier Ndong are available for selection, there are no guarantees that either will start the game. Similarly, Moyes has to consider whether he sticks with Stephen Pienaar and Lynden Gooch or whether it is finally time to re-introduce Wahbi Khazri, who was away from Wearside last week on international duty with Tunisia, scoring and creating goals as he does.

Making ourselves tough to beat, I feel, is pretty much the starting point for Sunderland in tonight's game. Lets concentrate on containing an Everton side who love to keep possession of the ball, frustrate them into making errors and then breaking quickly when our chances arise. If you can get to the hour mark having not conceded then we can begin to look at whether or not the game is there for the taking.

It might be a frustrating way of playing but the fact remains that we have yet to keep a clean sheet in the league this season, despite possessing some defensively sound players and a defensively sound manager. Getting back that consistency that we showed towards the end of last season is crucial.

Lets remember that Everton are no mugs. Having invested heavily in their playing side this summer, the team we face tonight is going to be nothing like the one that barely turned up in May on the night that we secured our survival.

Romelu Lukaku has struggled to get going so far this season but he scored twice for Belgium in midweek and, as some of you may know, Lukaku is a player who tends to operate in purple patches. The hope is that the big centre forward struggles once again against Lamine Kone at the Stadium of Light.

The Liverpool Echo wrote this weekend that Everton have to hit Sunderland early in order to get our fans booing the players off the pitch by half time - here's hoping that the truth is quite the opposite, and that the supporters are behind the team from start to finish. Lets be honest, they need us.

Team News

Sunderland have a bigger pool of players to select from now that the international break is over. Jan Kirchhoff, John O'Shea and Jordan Pickford are all available having recovered suitably from injury, but the game comes too soon for Billy Jones, Victor Anichebe and Lee Cattermole.

New signings Didier Ndong, Mika Domingues and Jason Denayer are all expected to make the match day squad.

Predicted XI:

Pickford, Van Aanholt, Djilobodji, Kone, Manquillo, Rodwell, Kirchhoff, Gooch, Pienaar, Januzaj, Defoe.

Manager's Crack

Obviously the press have been keen to have David Moyes draw on his time as Everton manager in the build to the game. Whilst it bores the rest of us to tears when we read about our manager talking about his former club it makes for nice reading in the nationals.

Moyes, however, was keen this week to express a point regarding his association to Everton these days, noting that they aren't a club that particularly interest him now that he's the manager of Sunderland.

Moyes said:

When you become the manager of a football club you support that club and you aren’t interested in anything else, so I’m only interested in winning and winning for Sunderland.

It is a special game because of all years I spent at Everton. I had a great time there – some good times and some difficult times – but more importantly I worked with great people at the club.

Gav's Prediction

For some reason I fancy us tonight. We really need a win if we are to kick on this season and if Sunderland are going to do so it hinges on us staying solid, compact and taking our chances when they come.

I'm going to say we'll win tonight 1-0 with a late Jermain Defoe goal.