All of the stats, and the league table, point towards a close game
Like Sunderland’s opponents in midweek, this weekend Phil Parkinson’s side are up against one of league one’s in form sides - and a team many predicted would be near the top of the table, a prediction the Sky Blues are living up to as they lie in second place.
With this in mind, it is unsurprising that the stats point to a close game, likely to be decided by one goal - if there is to be a winner at all.
It also appears unlikely there will be a repeat of last season’s 5-4 victory for Mark Robins’ men, as this match up puts the league’s best two defences up against eachother. Sunderland have a slight advantage over their opponents in this regard, conceding three goals fewer than the 30 goals conceded by Coventry City.
Whilst Rotherham are the promoting-chasers who are basing their aims around their attack - only Peterborough have scored more than their 59 league goals - Coventry and Sunderland are very much teams based on their defense, and this is reflected by their mediocre attacking records which puts them joint with Accrington Stanley with 46 goals scored.
As is often the case in close games, it is likely a late goal could turn out to be the difference between which side is able to take home three points on Sunday lunchtime. With both sides having scored 11 goals in the final 15 minutes of games (only four teams have scored more in this time period) it appears likely that - just like against Fleetwood - there will be late drama at St. Andrew’s this weekend.
How will Coventry try to hurt Sunderland?
Coventry City’s foward line looks very different to the one that caused Tom Flanagan and Jack Baldwin to have nightmares at the Stadium of Light last season, but that doesn’t mean their current strike force will not cause Sunderland’s new defence similar problems.
Coventry look likely to match Sunderland’s 3-4-2-1 formation, with two number tens looking to release Matt Godden in behind the defence - Godden has been offside more than any other player in league one this season, and with Callum O’Hare and Zain Westbrooke - who are 4th and 8th respectively in league one for total number of key passes - Robins’ team have the players in midfield capable of causing Sunderland problems when Godden does time his run correctly.
This type of forward is probably the type that will concen Phil Parkinson the most, especially now it is Ozturk rather than Bailey Wright at the centre of the defensive three. Ozturk is comfortably facing stereotypical league one forwards who don’t make him turn and face his own goal, but the former Hearts defender is yet to be tested against forwards who are able to do this.
With this in mind - as well as the fact that Lynden Gooch and Charlie Wyke are doubtful - It wouldn’t be surprising to see a change in Sunderland’s formation to combat the strongest side they have played since the good run of form began at the end of 2019. Regardless of any changes in formation or personel, I’d expect to see Jordan Willis play more of a covering role for Ozturk, and spend less time overlapping down the right as has been the case when Sunderland are at home to the weaker sides in the division.
All Stats from InStat Football