Martin O’Neill takes his Sunderland team to the Britannia Stadium on Saturday, with his side just 3 points behind the hosts. Do Stoke have too much know-how for the rejuvenated Black Cats, or will O’Neill extend his honeymoon period further?
Sunderland Win (13/5 @ BetVictor)
While it is sometimes easy to get carried away with single performances, the Sunderland win versus Norwich in midweek illustrated perfectly the rennaissance that the Black Cats have gone through during Martin O’Neill’s brief spell. The experienced manager has fallen back on the tried and trusted formation that has served him so well down the years – 4-4-2. So many modern coaches complicate matters – O’Neil picks a back four, two ball winners, two wingers and a strike pairing. Simple – but the turnaround has been stark. Sunderland are now the form team in the division, collecting 16 points from the last 21 on offer. They had 14 when Steve Bruce was asked to leave. O’Neill has won 6 of the 9 fixtures that he has overseen.
The Norwich win was notable for another reason. The return of Fraizer Campbell. He returned during the home FA Cup tie against Middlesbrough – with a goal – but the clash with the Canaries was his first start for months, and he transformed the Sunderland front line. As well as scoring a sublime goal, he also laid the second on a plate for Sessegon and put in an eye-catching display. Sunderland have been crying out for a decent front man, and Campbell can answer the call.
The 13/5 on offer with BetVictor looks juicy enough to get involved with. While it might be nice to keep the draw on side, knowing how rugged Stoke can make things, 13/5 offers just enough value. Sunderland look to have a better than 29% chance of winning this one but having been backed in from 15/4, the 13/5 at BetVictor may not last either.