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Big Match Preview: Sunderland

Sunderland have struggled in the Sky Bet Championship since their relegation in May.

Finishing bottom of the Premier League, the Black Cats now find themselves embroiled in a relegation battle one division down.

They have failed to record a win in their last ten matches, ahead of City's visit to the North East tomorrow.

Here’s a closer look at our next opponents.

FACTFILE

Formed: 1879
Nickname: Black Cats
Website: www.safc.com
Twitter: @SunderlandAFC
Ground: Stadium of Light
Capacity: 49,000

Honours:
First Division: 1891/92, 1892/93, 1894/85, 1901/11, 1912/13, 1935/36
Second Division: 1975/76, 1995/96, 1998/99, 2004/05, 2006/07
Second Division play-off winners: 1989/90
Third Division: 1987/88
FA Cup 1937, 1973
Charity Shield: 1936

Last season:
League finish: 20th (Premier League)
FA Cup: Third round, lost to Burnley
EFL Cup: Fourth round, lost to Southampton
Top scorer: Jermain Defoe, 15 goals
Average attendance: 41,287

HOW DID THEY GET HERE?

Sunderland have managed just one Sky Bet Championship win all season, on the road at Norwich City back in August.

The Black Cats have failed to win in their last ten matches in all competitions, including three straight draws.

The last time they won at the Stadium of Light in the league was on December 17th, with a slender 1-0 victory over Watford.

MEET THE GAFFER

Grayson took on the manager's job at Sunderland in the summer, replacing David Moyes, who had exited following their relegation from the Premier League.

He's won promotion with Blackpool, Leeds United, Huddersfield Town and Preston North End - all of his managerial clubs prior to Sunderland.

Life has been tricky for Grayson, inheriting a squad used to losing games week in, week out.

He's also had to try and shuffle his squad, coping with the drop out of the top flight.

He recently told the Sunderland Echo: “I know what is required to get us through this sticky spell.

"It’s not through any lack of effort or hard work on my part or the players, we just need the breaks to get us to where we want to get to."

STAR MAN – Aiden McGeady

A Republic of Ireland international whose career has taken him to Scotland - where he actually was born - Russia and now England.

A tricky winger full of tricks, he joined Celtic in 2010 and progressed through their Academy to  win three Scottish Premier League title and four cups.

He also landed three Young Player of the Year awards and the main award in 2008.

In 2010 he stunned Glasgow by joining Spartak Moscow for a fee of £9.5m - making him the most expensive Scottish export.

McGeady spent four years in Russia before returning to the UK with Everton.

Loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday and Preston North End followed, before he signed for Sunderland on a three-year deal in the summer, reuniting him with his old Preston boss.

With 92 caps for Ireland, McGeady will still harbour hopes of making an appearance at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

MEMORABLE MEETING 1998/99

Sunderland 1-1 Bristol City

Goals: Phillips 13; Andersen 88

City only ever visit to Sunderland's superb new home (opened just three years earlier) was an eventful one in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

On a balmy Tuesday night in September, City were battered from pilar to post and looked set for a hiding when Kevin Phillips scored the opener after just 13 minutes.

However, when Keith Welch saved Phillips' penalty midway through the first half, City sensed it could still be their night.

The onsalught continued after half-time, with Welch needing to be at his best on a number of occasions to keep the score at 1-0.

The heroics paid off when Soren Andersen, the Danish striker brought on in the second half, smashed in from 25 yards with just two minutes of the match remaining.

City had a point, somehow.

Sunderland: Sorensen, Butler, Melville, Johnston, Gray, Williams, Ball, Mullin, Summerbee, Phillips, Dichio. Subs not used: Craddock, Smith, Bridges.

Bristol City: Welch, Locke, Watts (Andersen 66), Carey, Dyche, Bell, Murray, Hewlett, Doherty, Tinnion (Goodridge 80), Akinbiyi. Sub not used: Cramb.

Attendance: 32,745

 

AND FINALLY...

Officials

Referee: Darren Bond
Assistant Referees: Matthew McGrath & Tony Peart
Fourth Official: Martin Coy

Betting (via SkyBet)

Sunderland 13/8
Draw 12/5
Bristol City 6/4