This game was due to be payed over two months ago, but a waterlogged Stadium of Light pitch meant that game was called off. However, the importance of this game has increased in those two months, with Sunderland slipping into the relegation mix. Both managers have come under scrutiny in recent weeks and if one leaves the North-East without any points, a change for either side could on the horizon.
Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill – ”So what do you do then? You go and put someone else in charge, he gets a group of 12, 13 games and can’t win any? It’s the same thing. I don’t want to be boastful, but not only am I the best man for the job, I am actually the only man for the job. We will steer through it, we will get calmer waters ahead – it might take us a few months to do that – and then we will see. I’m sure Reading possibly feel the same themselves, but it’s really up to us.’
Reading manager Brian McDermott – ‘You look at the four defeats and we definitely should have got something from the games that we’ve played. The Manchester United game last week we played really, really well but weren’t solid enough. I thought our shape was much, much better against Southampton, but with the ball we weren’t as good as we needed to be. We need to combine it all. Everything needs to come together. We’re looking at the next game. That’s the only thing that matters. What happened at Southampton has gone. There is nothing we can do about that. We’re disappointed about that. It is very unusual from us that we went one goal behind and didn’t respond the way we normally would do.’
Sunderland Team News:
Key striker Steven Fletcher is set to miss the encounter with an akle injury that kept him out of the Chelsea game on Saturday, with Connor Wickham likely to retain his place. Lee Cattermole is definitely out with
Player to watch: Adam Johnson
The Royals were linked with the former Manchester City winger in the summer, but he opted to make the move to the North-East and is finally starting to find his feet. He scored his second goal for them on Saturday against Chelsea and will want to add to that tally tonight.
Reading Team News:
Reading are without towering defender Sean Morrison for the trip to the North East, who picked up an injury against Southampton on Saturday. Striker Pavel Pogrebnyak is a doubt for the game, while Jimmy Kebe and Chris Gunter are both major doubts for the match.
Player to watch: Alex Pearce
With Sean Morrison departing from the side, this could be Pearce’s chance to prove to McDermott what he has been missing over the past couple of weeks. Despite all this contract confusion, I still believe he can do a good job for the side.
Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, O’Shea, Cuellar, Rose, Johnson, Gardner, Larsson, McClean, Sessegnon, Wickham
Reading: Federici, Cummings, Pearce, Mariappa, Shorey, McCleary, Tabb, Leigertwood, McAnuff, Le Fondre, Hunt
The referee for this game will be Neil Swarbrick, who last refereed the Royals when they beat West Ham 3-0 last year at the Madejski Stadium.
If we play anything like we did against Southampton, we won’t get anything from the game. However, with Sunderland a side lacking in goals, especially without Steven Fletcher for this encounter, I can see a stalemate.
Vital Reading prediction: 0-0
Sunderland – Man Utd (A) – Saturday 15th December – Premier League
Reading – Arsenal (H) – Monday 17th December – Premier League