In the early FA Cup kick-off, Sunderland take on Southampton for the fourth time this season and considering the hosts have just about had the better of their previous three encounters, Gus Poyet’s side are a must back at bewilderingly long odds of 21/10 at the Stadium of Light.
Poyet’s Black Cats had been in terrific form at home prior to their 2-0 loss against Hull last time out which, it could be argued, was largely due to Wes Brown’s fourth-minute dismissal for a foul on Tigers striker Shane Long.
That momentary lapse in concentration aside, Sunderland have wowed the Wearside faithful in recent weeks, with wins against Carlisle, Kidderminster, Manchester United and Stoke, plus a 2-2 draw at home to Mauricio Pochettino’s Saints, all coming since the start of January.
Their excitable Uruguayan gaffer insists he will freshen up the first-team for this fixture, yet stated that £6.5m summer signing Emanuele Giaccherini – who opened the scoring at Southampton in the Premier League earlier this season and played in the 2-1 home win over them in the Capital One Cup – will be amongst the starters.
Furthermore, former Man Utd stalwart Brown’s loss through suspension may not be as keenly felt as anticipated, as his side only lost one of the last five games the centre-half didn’t feature in and beat both Newcastle and Everton without the 34-year-old during that quintet of clashes.
Meanwhile, Saints chief Pochettino has injury concerns of his own at the back after Jose Fonte lacerated his leg during the 1-0 defeat of Hull at the KC Stadium, where the Portuguese defender scored the only goal.
Fonte is far from certain to face the side he equalised against back in August and with fellow centre-half Dejan Lovren – who’s also bagged against the Black Cats this term – set to miss out as well with an ankle injury, back the free-scoring hosts to maintain their recent two-per-game strike average in a 2-1 Sunderland win at odds of 10/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £50 in free bets.