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Saturday, 26 December 2009

Sunderland v Everton: Black Cats seek an end to sticky period

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Sunderland boss Steve Bruce must be counting down the days until January as December has been the month from hell for his boys. The Black Cats have managed to pick up just one point from four games, have lost defender Michael Turner for four games through suspension and are in danger of slipping outside the top 10 for the first time this season. Today’s visit of struggling Everton though will do the former Wigan boss any favours.

Everton head to the north east looking to record their fifth win in a row at the Stadium of Light and their ninth out of 10 meetings home and away. The Toffees go into the game on the back of three credible draws against Tottenham, Chelsea and Birmingham City, but all David Moyes wants for Christmas is three points from Sunderland.

Since beating Everton’s Merseyside neighbours Liverpool in October, the Black Cats have triumphed only once – against title chasing Arsenal – and they have failed to find the back of the net in four of their last seven games, although they did score three at Manchester City last weekend. Victory today for the Black Cats will keep them in 10th place but defeat will see the Toffees go level with them on points.

Sunderland started the decade with the upper hand over Everton winning three of their opening four fixtures against them. However, their last win against the boys in blue from Merseyside came in December 2001 courtesy of Claudio Reyna. Steve Bruce will be praying that the Black Cats can end the decade the way they started it.

Steve Bruce should be able to recall Lorik Cana after a one-game ban but they will be without Malbranque and Turner. David Moyes will be without the services of Jack Rodwell for a month and Distin, Jo and Gosling are all doubtful.

Sunderland v Everton; Kick Off 3pm 26 Dec 2009

Prediction Panel

Our panel contains both Squarefootball writers and readers, the writers are marked: (sqf).

Dave Blackburn : 0 - 0
Chris Cox : 0 - 1
Graham Enwright : 2 - 1
Sue Gardener : 2 - 2
Chris Goodwin : 2 - 2
Paul Grech (sqf) : TBC
Colin Illingworth (sqf) : 2 - 2
Hugh Larkin (sqf) : TBC
Peter Lee : 1 - 1
Don McMahon : 1 - 1
Antony Melvin (sqf) : 1 - 0
Paul O'Meara (sqf) : TBC
Dave Nash : 1 - 0
Stephen Orford (sqf) : TBC
Tony Ratton : 1 - 1
Peter Rendle : 1 - 1
Dan Taylor : 2 - 1
Andy Wakeman : 2 - 1
Isaac Williams : TBC
Mark Williams : TBC

Panel Verdict

Despite the history books the Panel believes this could be a good day for the Black Cats.

Home: 5; Draw: 8; Away: 1; TBC:6.

* Do we have it right, or do you know better? Please don't bother with derisory comments on the predictions after the match - unless you also pulled us up before it!

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Colin Illingworth



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