After slaying another Premier League side, Sunderland return to league duties as they welcome a stuttering MK Dons to the Stadium of Light. The Lads were hugely impressive on Wednesday as Sheffield United were put to the sword, and everyone on Wearside will be hoping these feel-good vibes can continue over the newly-promoted Dons.
The Buckinghamshire side have lost their last two league games but put up a brave fight against Liverpool in their last outing. Jack Ross will see this clash as the perfect opportunity to get back on track, and an expectant Stadium of Light will think the same.
Jack Ross Says...
On pressure at Sunderland:
To play for this club, they have to learn to deal with expectations to help us get to where we expect to be.
The games are different, in terms of the tactical make-up of the game because we would have less of the game territoriality than we ordinarily would in a league match. That lends itself to the game being played a different way, and our preparation reflected that.
So yeah, it’s different games, but we just have to always find ways of winning.
On MK Dons:
It will be a very different challenge to last night.
As we know, teams enjoy coming to the Stadium of Light, but we have a record that which we should be proud of in the last 16 months, and we want to continue that.
In recent matches we’ve created a lot of chances and if we continue to do that, be more ruthless and get some more clean sheets then hopefully we can go on a good run. If we get both of those things right then we give ourselves a really good chance of winning the game.
Ross made eight changes against Sheffield United, with new signings Joel Lynch and Laurens De Bock making impressive debuts. The pair could be pushing for a start on Saturday, considering Jordan Willis missed the trip to Bramall Lane with a knock. There are also question marks over Aiden McGeady, Lynden Gooch and Jon McLaughlin, all of whom didn’t travel to Sheffield.
After Lee Burge’s confident performance between the sticks on Wednesday, there have been calls for the former Coventry City man to take McLaughlin’s place. However, Ross remained coy over whether to throw Burge in, should McLaughlin be passed fit for the MK Dons test.
One player who is definitely out of Saturday’s game is winger Elliot Embleton - the youngster was forced off with an injury at half time against Sheffield United.
View From The Opposition
MK Dons have made an encouraging start back to life in League One and currently sit in 15th with four wins to their name. Under the stewardship of the immaculately dressed Paul Tisdale the Dons have sprung a couple of surprises including a 3-0 away demolition of high-flying Blackpool.
However, back-to-back home defeats to Ipswich Town and Southend United, combined with a 4-0 shellacking from Peterborough United has dampened the mood somewhat at stadium:MK. Despite this they gave a good account of themselves in the League Cup against Liverpool, narrowly losing 2-0 against the European champions.
Tisdale hopes that the experience gained during the Liverpool defeat will stand them in good stead when they travel to Wearside on Saturday.
A League One game is a very different sport to what we played tonight, but if we’ve learnt one thing, it’s that we’ve got some good players who I believe will work their way up through the leagues themselves.
At times, we had a real clarity to our game and it’s amazing how much you can have an impact on the other team, regardless of their level. We managed to do it at times tonight and that bodes well.
Venue: Stadium of Light, Sunderland
Referee: Paul Marsden
Last season position: 3rd (League Two)
Last 5 results:
(LC) Sheffield United (A) 1-0
(L1) Bolton Wanderers (A) 1-1
(L1) Rotherham United (H) 1-1
(L1) Accrington Stanley (A) 3-1
(L1) Peterborough United (A) 0-3
(LC) Liverpool (H) 0-2
(L1) Southend United (H) 0-1
(L1) Ipswich Town (H) 0-1
(L1) Blackpool (A) 3-0
(L1) AFC Wimbledon (H) 2-1
The Dons on Wearside
27 Aug 2013 (LC) Sunderland 4-2 MK Dons (Altidore, Wickham 2, Johnson)
Top goalscorers (in all competitions)
4 - Sam Nombe
3 - Rhys Healey
2 - Conor McGrandles
2 - Jordan Hughton
Last Time We Met
What a goddamn halcyon era it was when MK Dons made their first visit to the Stadium of Light. Sunderland had just embarked on a supermarket sweep of every jobber in Europe and supporters were starting to realise that manager Paolo Di Canio was a) a complete lunatic and b) really bad at managing football teams.
The Lads fielded bonafide legends such as Ondřej Čelůstka, Valentin Roberge, Cabral and David Moberg Karlsson among others. Meanwhile, the Dons had a 17-year-old Dele Alli as the lynchpin of their midfield and had the Stadium of Light by its balls, leading 2-0 with 15 minutes to go (thank you, Patrick Bamford).
Despite the absolutely hopeless performance, Sunderland inexplicably conspired to win the game with Jozy Altidore (lol), Connor Wickham (twice) and Adam Johnson all rattling in goals to set Sunderland on their way to an unlikely cup final appearance.