Sunderland are in search of just their second league win of the season as they welcome in-form Southampton to the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats need a strong reaction to last weekend’s thumping 6-2 defeat at Everton, with Sam Allardyce criticising his players for getting carried away after coming back from 2-0 to level the scores.
No Premier League team has conceded more goals than Sunderland this season, and some of the home defenders will still be having nightmares about Graziano Pelle after the Italian notched a brace in Sunderland’s 8-0 defeat at St Mary’s last year.
The aforementioned loss was an aberration in what is otherwise an impressive recent record that Sunderland have against their visitors this weekend; that was the only defeat in the last ten meetings between the two teams.
Southampton go into the weekend unbeaten in five league games and full of confidence after sweeping aside local rivals Bournemouth last weekend.
The Saints haven’t lost on their travels all season, although four of their five away matches have ended in draws.
Ronald Koeman’s side have overcome a difficult start to lie seventh in the Premier League; the South Coast outfit are again proving critics wrong after letting key players go in the summer.
Virgil van Dijk has been an impressive acquisition and has proved to be an adequate replacement for Toby Alderweireld – the Saints have lost just once in the nine matches that the Dutch international has played in.
Lee Cattermole will miss the match with a groin injury for the hosts, but they do welcome back John O’Shea, Ola Toivonen, Younes Kaboul and Fabio Borini.
Southampton will be without midfielder Victor Wanyama, who was recklessly sent off for two yellow cards against Bournemouth. Attacking duo Jay Rodriguez and Shane Long will also be on the sidelines for the visitors through injury.
League Position: Sunderland – 19th (6 pts); Southampton – 7th (17 pts)
Last Meeting: Sunderland 2-1 Southampton (May 2, 2015)
Key Men: Sunderland – Jermain Defoe; Southampton – Graziano Pelle
Form: Sunderland – LLDLWL; Southampton – LWWDDW
Shoot Says: Sunderland 1-2 Southampton