Although Pep Guardiola’s men visit the Stadium of Light on Sunday to take on League bottom-scrapers Sunderland, they would very much make sure of taking the maximum 3 points given the tight race on for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th spots on the Premier League table. Man City are presently on the 3rd spot with 52 points and just one and two points separate them from 2nd placed Tottenham and Arsenal in the 4th respectively.
The Black Cats defence showed resilience in their 2-0 loss to Everton last weekend but at home they will have to do much more if they have to ward off folks like Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne. The probable absence of the brilliant 19-year old Brazilian, Gabriel Jesus, upfront due to injury could come as some relief for the Sunderland back line but that is scant comfort against an attack that has got as many as 13 goals form their 4 outings in February alone.
But City have shown signs of being leaky at the back despite their immense flair for attack. Allowing Monaco to get away with 3 away goals in the Champions League clash at the Etihad was a glaring instance of the vulnerability inherent in the City defence. They managed just 2 clean sheets from their 6 Premier League outings this year. This is something that David Moyes’ men will have to exploit from the few opportunities they will get to counter-attack. Jermain Defoe, the side’s top scorer with 14 goals to his name, will be expected to deliver the goods in such an event. The veteran English striker has alone accounted for 5 of the only 7 goals the Black Cats have scored from their 9 EPL outings in 2017. Despite their position at the bottom of the League table, Sunderland have some positives to show this year – two astonishing draws against Liverpool and Tottenham at home in January and a stunning 0-4 away win against Crystal Palace in early February.
The Black Cats have lost all but one of their previous 8 meetings with City since 2014. Few expect that trend to change at the Stadium of Light on March 5. But David Moyes’ men could take inspiration from their performances against Liverpool and Tottenham at home earlier this year and try to steal valuable points away from the formidable visitors.
Anytime Goalscorer, Defoe, Best Odds 3/1 @ Betfred
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