Wayne Rooney's, Birmingham City, travel to the Stadium of Light on Saturday, where they will face Sunderland. Last season, the Black Cats were victorious over the Blues with a 2-1 result on both occasions.
Sunderland will push for promotion once again this season and they are currently on track to be within the playoff spots. After 15 matches, Tony Mowbray's team are placed in eighth, two points behind Preston in sixth. Although they have won seven matches, consistency has evaded the Black Cats as they have also lost six so far. Sunderland boast the eighth best attack in the Championship, scoring an average of 1.6 goals per game, whilst also conceding the fourth lowest average goals per game, 1.07.
Last week's outing versus Swansea will have been the most frustrating match Mowbray has experienced all season. The Swans received a red card on the half hour mark, but ten minutes later, they had the opportunity to take the lead via the spot. Anthony Patterson saved the penalty and it looked set that Sunderland would go on to win the tie. Yet despite accumulating 1.96 XG, having 71% possession and 25 attempts at goal, the game finished 0-0.
Over the last 11 matches, the Blues have picked up two victories which came in back to back games just prior to the managerial exit of John Eustance. Wayne Rooney was handed the responsibility of leading Birmingham towards success, yet since his appointment, his side have lost three and drew once. We are 15 fixtures into the campaign and Birmingham sit in 15th place on 19 points. They display respectable defensive statistics, only conceding 18 goals, but the quality in the final third has been lacking, netting 1.2 goals per game on average. Their attacking record away from home is poor and Birmingham have lost five of their seven matches whilst travelling, the fourth worst away record in the league.
That said, Birmingham picked up an extremely impressive yet disappointing 2-2 draw versus an Ipswich side that had won eight of their last nine Championship matches going into the tie. Jay Stansfield earned a start and opened the scoring early on. Just after the break, the Blues had their lead doubled by an own goal, but they succumbed to the Ipswich pressure and conceded the equaliser in the 89th minute.
Wayne Rooney was minutes away from claiming an important victory, but his side showed that they can compete against the best in the division which will do wonders for their confidence. Sunderland will believe that they can pick up a result as Birmingham have conceded in their last seven matches, but the visitors will look to frustrate the favourites.
The final prediction is Sunderland 2-1 Birmingham, with a Sunderland win priced at 4/6.