Sunderland went to a back three on Saturday, and while we played well in the first 45, we looked a lot more threatening in the second 45. Given Gooch’s likely unavailability, I reckon we’ll go back to a back four, and line up like this.
Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson
Patterson looked incredibly assured on Saturday – I thought he commanded his box well and took the pressure off the defence when needed.
Defence: Luke O’Nien, Danny Batth, Aje Alese, Dennis Cirkin
Luke O’Nien went to right back in the second half when Lynden Gooch went off injured, and his performance up the right-hand side was instrumental in our turnaround in the second half. The reshuffle meant Aje Alese went into his natural position, and he was superb alongside the excellent Batth. I expect him to stay there tonight, with Cirkin – who made a superb comeback on Saturday – lining up at left back.
Midfield: Dan Neil, Corry Evans, Elliot Embleton
Dan Neil’s performance probably went under the radar a little on Saturday, but he was key in the second half – he was pretty much on his own in the centre of midfield, and did really well. Embleton’s selection on Saturday was a surprise to me – I thought he’d be back on the bench after a couple of poor displays – but he turned in his best performance of the season and deservedly got a goal. Corry Evans, suspended on Saturday, will surely come back in to captain the team against his former club.
Attackers: Patrick Roberts, Alex Pritchard, Jack Clarke
Patrick Roberts was superb on Saturday, and had their defence on toast for the majority of the game. He’s such a good player to watch when he has some space to attack, and while he didn’t get on the scoresheet on Saturday, I have a feeling he will tonight. Pritchard came back into form on Saturday after a couple of quieter games, while Jack Clarke, after a subdued opening 45 when he struggled to get into the game, once again showed the talent he has and will retain his place tonight.