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Roker Report’s Score Predictions: Oxford United v Sunderland

Could Sunderland get all three points as we take on Oxford United this weekend? We ask our panel what they think - let us know if you agree!

Oxford United v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Last time out against Bristol Rovers our hugely optimistic panel were outdone by Sunderland’s failure to get all three points, with only two picking up a single point for Chris Maguire being first goalscorer for the Lads.

That means all our panel are now off the mark with Will finally getting into the points and Jack has gained on Matthew who went into an early lead last week. Will our brave predictors be as optimistic against Oxford United as they were last week? Let’s find out...


Philip Butler predicts...

Scoreline: Oxford United 0 - 0 Sunderland

Sunderland’s first goalscorer: No goalscorer

I think the main thing we learnt last weekend was that Phil Parkinson is looking to repeat the blueprint for promotion which served him well at Bolton, and slightly less well at Sunderland last season. With this in mind, I think he’d take a point away against Sunderland’s promotion rivals.

I considered predicting another one-all draw, or even a 1-0 away win, but I can’t confidently predict Sunderland to score, although I don’t think we will concede many goals this season.

So, for that reason I’ve gone for a bore draw, and I’m hoping that, like last week, I’m wrong.

Sunderland v Hull City - Carabao Cup First Round
Philip Butler is tipping Lee Burge to keep a clean sheet at Oxford this weekend
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Malcolm Dugdale predicts...

Scoreline: Oxford United 1 - 2 Sunderland

Sunderland’s first goalscorer: Aiden O’Brien

As per recent pod discussions, I am hoping and praying that the lessons made so clear last weekend will be heeded and dealt with by Parky. If not, my prediction is toast.

I doubt we will keep a clean sheet away to these guys but if we can either play long ball properly with Graham or Wyke involved, or play it on the deck better, both through midfield and down the wings, then we can get a result. Assuming they will attack as the home side, the space in behind may exist, unlike the parked bus we witnessed after the Bristol penalty.

Oxford had a loss last weekend when we got a draw, but both sides went behind early. We grabbed an equaliser with the bulk of possession, they commanded possession but conceded again. Both teams had a player sent off, but Oxford lost a defender so maybe the forced change will hurt them more.

This needs to be a win considering the fixtures to come behind it. Let’s get Scowen in the mix, consider blending in Neil, Diamond and Graham as the game goes on, and we can prevent other strong teams from pulling away early.

Come on lads, a good performance to set out the stall for the coming six points post Oxford.

Sunderland v Bristol Rovers - Sky Bet League One
Aiden O’Brien is Malcolm Dugdale’s favourite for scoring Sunderland’s opener at Oxford
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Matthew Foster predicts...

Scoreline: Oxford United 1 - 1 Sunderland

Sunderland’s first goalscorer: Chris Maguire

The Bristol Rovers game was somewhat of an anti-climax to the two previous performances. I have no idea what Burge was doing, but it was forced us to chase the game from the third minute, against a side quite willing to sit back, waste time and go for the smash and grab.

It was a huge relief to see Maguire pop up and level the score, to at least take something from the game.

Oxford next, and it’s a tricky one to predict. Their defeat to Lincoln last weekend surprised me a little, but they followed that up with a valiant effort against Watford, succumbing to penalties.

On top of that, it looks likely that they’ll be missing a few key players to injury, which of course plays into our hands a little, but we should still be wary of a side I expect will challenge at the upper reaches of the table.

With Dobson suspended (no huge loss for me) there can be no excuses for not giving Scowen the chance he should have had last week.

I’m going with the all too common 1-1 draw, but more than happy to be proven wrong (in a good way of course).

Sunderland v Bristol Rovers - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light
Matthew Foster is hoping Chris Maguire produces a bit of magic again for Sunderland
Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

Jack Howe-gingell predicts...

Scoreline: Oxford United 1 - 2 Sunderland

Sunderland’s first goalscorer: Chris Maguire

I’m hoping we can actually make our possession count for once, in what could be a difficult game.

Oxford are a tidy side and I’d expect them to be challenging for a top six place come the end of the season.

We desperately need to be more dynamic and hit teams hard. Hopefully, Dobson’s suspension will mean Parkinson brings in Josh Scowen as a replacement. He showed he can work box to box and knows his way around set pieces.

Ideally, we’d have the likes of Diamond and Neil on the bench to provide some surprise factor, and a great option in a tiring game. I won’t hold my breath on that one, though.

I’m optimistically going for 1-2, though if we don’t try and get at Oxford, it could easily be a narrow loss or a draw. Parkinson simply must get us playing without as much fear, and I’m hoping a midfield change will bring that.

Sunderland v Aston Villa U21: EFL Trophy
Will Josh Scowen get the nod to replace George Dobson?
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Will Jones predicts...

Scoreline: Oxford United 1 - 2 Sunderland

Sunderland’s first goalscorer: Max Power

Right then, time to get one right. Oxford losing to a very good-looking Lincoln side, playing midweek and having suspensions and injuries galore, something must give right?

I don’t think it’s gonna be easy by any stretch, Oxford are stretched for players and will be a little fatigued but will be no easy team to play against. They will have seen how we kicked off at the weekend and believe they can get something if they play from the off, and then sit on it.

I believe we will learn from our errors, play the ball early, push on and use what we have to break them down and not play it slow so they can just sit, I believe we will win, not by any means with ease, but will get three points nonetheless.

Sunderland v Bristol Rovers - Sky Bet League One
Max Power was unlucky to hit the post last weekend and is tipped by Will Jones to get this week’s opener
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Martin Wanless predicts...

Scoreline: Oxford United 1 - 1 Sunderland

Sunderland’s first goalscorer: Charlie Wyke

This time last week I was genuinely optimistic about the season ahead. After having the same pre-season positivity for the past 35 seasons or so maybe I should have known better.

The pre-season positives that I based my optimism on were that it seemed Parkinson had identified weaknesses in his system and squad from last season, and evolved things to account those deficiencies.

Unfortunately on Saturday, we saw him revert almost to type: in fact, the way we played he’d have been better reverting fully to type, and sticking the lumbering Wyke up top – at least it’d give people a target to hit.

Still, we head to Oxford in what will be a major test for us. The beaten play-off finalists in the-season-that-never-was are fancied this season too, but haven’t got off to the best of starts. Two EFL Cup 1-1 draws at home – one penalty win against Wimbledon, one penalty defeat to Watford – and a 2-0 away defeat on the League One opening day to Lincoln City doesn’t suggest a team in the best of form.

In terms of how we approach this game, the absence of Dobson should be a positive, provided he’s replaced by Scowen. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see Parky go full Parky and see Wyke replace Grigg.

In goal, Lee Burge’s performance raised serious question marks about whether he’s up to the task of being first choice, and it’ll be interesting to see how he copes on Saturday. I don’t have high hopes of many clean sheets.

So, working on those presumptions, I’m taking us to return from the three-sided citadel with a point – unbeaten for the season, but seriously off the pace. 1-1.

Sunderland v Aston Villa U21: EFL Trophy
After Charlie Wyke scored twice in the EFL Trophy Martin Wanless thinks he will score Sunderland’s opener at Oxford
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images