The Story So Far
7th-place Bristol City are enjoying a decent campaign so far, recording five wins, six draws and just two defeats this season. Prior last weekend's poor 3-0 home defeat to Leeds United, City were riding an 11-game unbeaten run.
Lee Johnson’s side began the season with a resounding 3-1 home victory over Barnsley. The Robins were 3-0 up after 30 minutes before coasting out the rest of the game without much fuss. Since then they have impressed greatly, with notable results being a 1-0 away win at Reading, a 4-1 victory over Derby County, 2-0 victory over Stoke in the Carabao Cup and a 4-1 victory over Crystal Palace midweek in the same competition.
Last Time Out
Bristol City entertained Premier League opposition this week as they welcomed Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace to Ashton Gate. The evening started slowly for the hosts as Bakary Sako opened the scoring on 21 minutes after a well worked move.
But the hosts flipped the game on its head in the space of seven minutes. Former Sunderland left-back Patrick Van Aanholt made a horrendous mistake that Matty Taylor capitalised on to equalise. Milan Djuric then scored as a result of a long throw into the box to give the hosts the lead heading into half time.
The second half saw Hodgson’s men capitulate as Joe Bryan and Callum O’Dowda added onto the scoring to give the home side a comprehensive 4-1 victory, a win made all the more impressive because Palace had a pretty strong line up out on the night.
Bobby Reid and former Aston Villa defender Nathan Baker are both doubts for the weekend’s game as they strive towards recovery from injury. Reid is the top scorer for the Robins so Lee Johnson will be hoping and praying that the talisman will be back for his team on Saturday.
City’s record signing Famara Diédhiou - who has six goals already this season - is due to have a scan on a knee injury, so is likely to miss the game on Wearside.
Bristol-born midfielder Bobby Reid has been in tremendous form this season, scoring seven goals in 13 games. Reid is a marvelous attacker who is quickly becoming a standout player in the Championship.
His ability to drop in deep and link up play makes it difficult for opposition defenders to track him, and since he’s in such a rich vein of scoring form he’ll be brimming with confidence - Sunderland will need to watch Reid carefully, provided he plays.
Referee - Darren Bond
Bond has taken charge of just one Sunderland game this season - our 2-1 away victory at Carlisle in the Carabao Cup back in August. The Lancashire whistler has been a Championship referee since 2014 and last season he showed 117 yellow cards and six reds in 40 games.
He also took charge of City’s 2-1 away defeat at Birmingham towards the start of the season, where he showed a red card to Birmingham player Maikel Kieftenbeld.
Manager - Lee Johnson
The son of former City manager Gary Johnson, Lee is trying to do what his father couldn't and guide the Robins to the Premier League.
Lee Johnson began his management career at the age of just 31 when he took over Oldham Athletic, continually guiding them to top half finishes in League One - despite operating on a limited budget.
A move to Barnsley followed where he showed his ability to move the Tykes away from the relegation zone in League One by winning his first six games in charge. The next season started poorly for Johnson but he managed to leave Barnsley in a healthy position, winning his final six games before he was offered the Bristol City job.
Since joining Bristol, Johnson has moulded them into an established Championship side despite having 16 game run where they only picked up two victories last season. The manager rode that storm out and City have been rewarded for their loyalty with a decent start to this season that sees them vying for a playoff spot.
City - like virtually every side we have faced so far this season - will be a well drilled, well organised strong defensive unit who can punish us for not taking our chances. City have match winners and that bit of individual quality which means they will always be a threat in the game.
Lee Johnson has his boys organised on set pieces, which is problematic since Sunderland are notoriously bad at defending/scoring from dead ball situations. City should line up with a 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 formation which may mean we could finally not be overrun in the middle of the park - though I will not hold my breath on that one!