Can Sunderland foil Southampton again and move out of drop zone?
Sunderland haven’t been a thorn in many sides this season, but Southampton have found them a bit of a pain and may do so again at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
Coral make the Black Cats 15/8 to notch up a fifth victory of the season (7/5 Southampton, 23/10 the draw), a win which would almost certainly take them out of the bottom three and so be great cause for celebration on Wearside.
Sunderland’s 1-1 draw at St Mary’s Stadium in August was an early bright spot in the campaign for Paulo Di Canio, but it all started to fall to bits after that until Gus Poyet replaced the volatile Italian in early October.
And under new management Sunderland fared even better against what had become a most efficient Saints unit with a 2-1 victory in the Capital One Cup the following month.
Poyet has since overseen League Cup wins over Chelsea and Manchester United to take his side to the verge of a Wembley appearance, but the biggest game in town is the Premier League and the Uruguayan will be anxious that his players carry on the good work in the competition that matters most.
A 4-1 win at Fulham last weekend certainly helped the cause and there is definitely some real momentum being built for the testing times ahead.
One of the major pluses for Sunderland has been the return to top form of Adam Johnson. The winger scored a hat-trick at Craven Cottage and his general all-round play has led some to wonder whether he may yet add to the 11 England caps he won between 2010 and 2012.
Coral go 11/4 that he is on the scoresheet again this weekend and 8/1 that he scores first or last.
And while Sunderland have become more stable (Poyet is 40/1 to be the next Premier League manager to leave his post), quite the opposite has happened at Southampton, where the resignation of chief executive Nicola Cortese led to speculation that boss Mauricio Pottecino would be following him out of the door.
The Argentine has assured everyone that he will be staying on at least until the end of the season, but things clearly aren’t as settled as they were and the general feeling of uncertainty is reflected in Coral’s 4/1 that Pochettino is still next in line.