Aston Villa Preview - Home, Oct 29
SUNDERLAND PLAY host to Aston Villa on Saturday as they look to collect back-to-back wins for the first time in the Premier League this season.
The Villains have been far from convincing themselves and have now suffered back-to-back defeats at the hands of Manchester City and local rivals, West Bromwich Albion.
Currently 11th and without a win on the road so far, Alex McLeish has suffered exactly the sort of mediocre start he couldn't afford having moved from city rivals Birmingham over the summer.
Summer signings were few and far between but the kind of players Villa needed have certainly been added to a solid if not slightly small squad.
Shay Given is of course a well-established performer in the Premier League, making over 300 appearances for Newcastle. Given had been frozen out at Manchester City but is now back to playing regular football and benefiting from it.
Right-back Alan Hutton is a man perhaps lucky to be facing one of his former clubs this weekend having avoided red for a horrendous challenge on Shane Long. The 26 year-old spent six months on loan at the Stadium of Light making an uninspiring 11 appearances in red and white stripes.
Creative midfielder Charles N'Zogbia is another one with unfortunate Mag ties having spent five years at St James' Park. The temperamental French midfielder is unplayable on his day and even drew comparisons with Lionel Messi from former boss, Roberto Martinez. Big 'Eck's number one summer target set Villa back a hefty £9.5m.
Finally there's yet another ex-Mag in Jermaine Jenas. The Tottenham midfielder is on a season-long loan from White Hart Lane where he has quickly fallen down the pecking order. Energetic and with a good range of passing the England international is looking to get back to his best following a string of injury setbacks in North London.
No Aston Villa preview from a Black Cat's point-of-view would be complete without a nod to our former hitman, Darren Bent. The £24m man has done exactly what he was brought to Villa Park to do, scoring 12 league goals in his first 24 league starts leaving him with a perfect one-in-two record for his new club.
McLeish will be able to call upon youngster Chris Herd after his red card from the Albion game was overturned. Barry Bannan has been internally suspended following an alleged drink-driving incident.
Ironically Hutton could miss out with a facial injury. Emile Heskey is almost back to full fitness whilst Fabian Delph and Gabby Agbonlahor are both back following illness.
Steve Bruce has a full squad to choose from.
Sunderland: Mignolet; O'Shea, Brown (c), Turner, Bardsley; Larsson, Colback, Vaughan, Sessegnon; Wickham & Bendtner.
Aston Villa: Given; Cuellar, Dunne, Collins, Warnock; Albrighton, Herd, Petrov (c), N'Zogbia; Agbonlahor & Bent.