Norwich perspective: Matt, Holtamania.
The big news this week is that John Ruddy is set to be out for up to three months, so Mark Bunn will continue in goal. Elsewhere, Ryan Bennett looks set to continue at centre-back while Turner recuperates from a knock. After a couple of draws we may see changes in midfield, perhaps with the underwhelming Pilkington making way for Bennett. Chris Hughton is showing himself to be pretty conservative, however, and after seven unbeaten he’s quite likely to keep changes to a minimum.
We’re in good form, especially at home, where we’ve now won three in a row, all 1-0. We’re seven unbeaten all in all, eight if you count the League Cup, and things have certainly picked up since our early season humblings. Our tactic seems to be win at home, draw away, so I expect us to be a bit more adventurous this weekend than we were down at St Mary’s.
Honours were split last season, with each team winning their home game. We completely dominated a rubbish Steve Bruce inspired team but were in turn dominated by a Martin O’Neill inspired team later in the season. With our player turnover being pretty high since then, not many of the guys who started up in the North East are likely to start on Sunday, so hopefully there will be some freshness and new ideas to take down O’Neill’s boys.
Under 2.5 goals at 1.65. Neither team is setting the world alight in attack this year. This is the most obvious bet to have on this game.
Norwich to win without conceding at 3.20. Norwich have the joint most clean sheets in the division, and with our most recent home games all ending 1-0 this looks a good pick.
No goal scored 00:00-29:59 at 1.65. With the game likely to be tight and low scoring, and with most of our goals coming in the 2nd half of games, I’d also back against an early goal.
Score prediction: Norwich 1–0 Sunderland (6.75)
Sunderland perspective: Martyn McFadden, A Love Supreme.
Sunderland have started losing players thick and fast: both John O'Shea and captain Lee Cattermole have picked up knocks in recent weeks. Both injuries are massive blows, and with the relatively unproven Matt Kilgallon and the opinion dividing Jack Colback in to replace them, our chances could suffer.
Tuesday's performance against QPR was awful. Simply awful. The team is really lacking a creative spark at the moment and we're begging that Martin O'Neill figures it out soon. If he doesn't, he's going to get himself sacked at this rate. I won't rattle out the statistics, but we're treading water in the relegation zone at the moment, and that simply isn't good enough given the talented squad we have.
We lost 2-1 away at Norwich last season, with Steve Bruce sealing his fate with unattractive football and results to match. Sounds quite familiar doesn't it? Norwich at home was a completely different story however: with a wonder strike from Fraizer Campbell and a memorable performance from Stephane Sessegnon we romped to a 3-0 win, the real height of success under O'Neill. We can only pray for a repeat performance.
Carlos Cuellar to score at 18.00. The defender is starting to look extremely dangerous from set pieces.
Steve Morison to score first at 6.75. Norwich's striker has been out of favour this term, but he scored the winner against us last season at Carrow road.
Under 2.5 goals at 1.65. The odds aren't amazing, but these are two low-scoring sides.
Score prediction: Norwich 1-1 Sunderland (6.50)