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Match Preview: Can Sunderland get 2024 off to the best possible start with a victory over PNE?

While the performance at Rotherham may not have been enthralling, it enabled us to pick up a decent point. Will we make it an excellent start to the new year with a victory over Preston? Here’s everything you need to know.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Monday 1st January 2024

(7th) Sunderland versus Preston North End (11th)

Championship

Stadium of Light

Kick-Off: 12:30pm


Tickets & Match Coverage

Tickets: Limited tickets are available via safc.com

TV/Stream: The game is live on Sky Sports, so not available for streaming. Full live match coverage is available via www.safc.com.

Radio: Full live match commentary available via BBC Radio Newcastle (not online)

Don’t forget to follow the blow-by-blow account of the game on the Roker Report Twitter feed (@RokerReport) and check out the player ratings after the full-time whistle at www.RokerReport.com!


The build-up...

While the mood at Sunderland isn’t great at present, but objectively we’re currently in a decent run of form – we’re sixth in the championship form guide over the past six games, and while the performances haven’t been great yet under Beale, another three points today would steady things a bit ahead of Saturday’s game against the mags.

We’ve played three games in seven days, and not made many changes at all, however I think we may see a bit of pack shuffling today. The last half an hour at Rotherham (hopefully) showed that Michael Beale has seen what has been clear to supporters for most of the season – namely a lack of width and a lack of a striker is holding us back – and we looked a bit better in the game’s closing period.

Today’s opponents Preston are struggling, despite sitting 11th. Under Ryan Lowe, they’ve won just four of the last 17, the manager’s been given the ‘dreaded vote of confidence’, and has blown up against the local press. It’s not a happy camp, and hopefully we’re playing them at the right time.

Preston North End v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images

Last season, Preston came to the Stadium of Light with zero intention of entering a game of football – they shut up shop, wasted time from the off, and we couldn’t break them down. I expect a similar approach from the away team today, which means playing with wider players (particularly fullbacks) and a striker is essential.


The betting...

The bookies have Sunderland as strong favourites, priced 4/7, with Preston 9/2 and a draw 11/4.


Head to head... at home to Preston

(All competitions)

  • Sunderland wins: 32
  • Draws: 17
  • Preston wins: 6
  • Sunderland goals: 101
  • Preston goals: 52

Last time we met... at the Stadium of Light

Saturday 1st October 2021

Championship

Sunderland 0-0 Preston

Sunderland: Patterson, Gooch, O’Nien, Batth, Alese, Evans (Ba), Neil, Roberts, Embleton (Amad), Clarke (Dajaku), Pritchard (Bennette) Substitutes not used: Bass, Wright, Matete

PNE: Woodman, Browne, Fernandez, Storey, Lindsay, Cunningham, Brady (McCann), Whiteman, Evans (Parrott), Ledson (Woodburn), Jakobsen Substitutes not used: Cornell, Diaby, Potts, Johnson

Attendance: 41,825


Played for both...

David Healy

Northern Irish striker David Healy started his career at Manchester United, but it was at Preston that he really hit the headlines, playing 137 games, scoring 44 goals, before a nomadic career saw him turn out for eight more clubs, including Sunderland.

Roy Keane signed Healy from Fulham, and he spent three years at the Stadium of Light, making just three starts and 18 sub games, scoring three goals. After loan spells with Ipswich and Doncaster, Healy left permanently for Glasgow Rangers, before finishing his career at Bury in 2013.

Since 2015, Healy has been in charge at Linfield, managing more than 400 games and registering a win ratio of 63.17%.

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