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Sunderland V Birmingham Preview

Sunderland
vs.
Birmingham

Stadium of Light

20/03/10

3pm

Sunderland have had a much better month with an unbeaten run of seven league games and are still unbeaten at home in 2010. This game will bring a new set of challenges to Steve Bruce and his players but one they are certainly capable of overcoming.

Alex McLeish has worked wonders at St. Andrews and they are already safe so face no pressure on Saturday to get a result. This could work against them as they may take their foot off the gas and allow Sunderland to finally get a clear gap from the bottom three.

This game will be the last of a run of four at home before some tricky away games against Villa and Liverpool so a win is needed for all involved.

Vital Quotes:

Steve Bruce said: 'I would be very, very pleased with that if I could get it [a win], and it would define our season because then we have got a chance of going above Blackburn, we have got a chance of catching Bolton and making a play of finishing in the top 10.

'That's what we have got to try to achieve now. Can we try to stop looking over our shoulders - even though we still are, if I am being honest, we are still looking over.

'But that's got to be the aim, to finish off the season strongly. It won't be easy - we have got some big games coming up, either from the top end or the bottom end of the table.'

Sunderland Team News:

Sunderland may welcome back Kenwyne Jones as a recent scan showed no damage to his hip in the last game against Man City. Sunderland missed him badly in the second half and with him up front and in defence we are a different force altogether.

Cattermole may miss the game with more hamstring worries and Lorik Cana serves his last game of his current suspension.

Henderson and Reid are close to full fitness and may be involved at some stage of the game.

Player to watch: Alan Hutton

As the new chant goes:

On the right, on the right, Alan Hutton
On the right he will run past you
On the right, on the right, Alan Hutton
Alan Hutton is the white Cafu!

Since his arrival in January we have become harder to beat and kept a lot more clean sheets. If we can sign the Scot in the Summer, and keep Mensah fit, we should be able to build on this resurgance and stop worrying about the bottom three.

Birmingham Team News:

Birmingham are without Sunderland loanee Teemu Tainio, who is ineligible under Premier League rules.

Stuart Parnaby should be on the bench after recovering from an ankle injury.

Player to watch: Joe Hart

He has been one of the upcoming players of the season and the main reason behind Birmingham's success. He has been in fine form and if he can continue until the end of the season he is surely a candidate to be involved in the World Cup.

Match Facts & Stats

Alex McLeish's side have kept 10 clean sheets this season, but have managed only one in their last nine league games.

Sunderland are currently unbeaten in their last seven games.

Ref Watch:

Referee: Peter Walton Assistant referees: David Richardson & Paul Thompson Fourth official: Eddie Ilderton

Match Prediction:

Sunderland 2 - 0 Birmingham I have a good feeling about this result and if we can maintain our strong defence I think our fans and home form will see us through this game.

Next Fixtures:

We face a rescheduled away tie to Aston Villa on Wednesday.


Writer:Gary Johnson
Date:Friday March 19 2010
Time: 6:15PM

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