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    Sunderland v Stoke: Match Preview

    Sunderland go into their home match with Stoke this week buoyed by a fantastic away win and clean sheet this past Monday at Crystal Palace. The Black Cats will be hoping for back to back wins for the first time this season but Stoke come to the North East in fantastic form, having kept three consecutive clean sheets themselves and have only lost one in their last ten. 



    Sam Allardyce seems to have found a formation that suits the players at his disposal. He deployed the 3-5-2 formation very effectively against Palace, with the three centre backs easily dealing with the lone front man Connor Wickham, and the five man midfield smothering the middle of the park. 

    Jermain Defoe should be fit to play after his ankle injury was less severe than initially feared, and Sunderland's top scorer will be looking to add to his 7 goals so far. Fabio Borini should also return to the bench after missing the trip to Selhurst Park. DeAndre Yedlin may get a start as Billy Jones will be serving a one match suspension for picking up his 5th booking of the campaign on Monday night. 

    Stoke City will be missing German defender Philipp Wollscheid with a pelvic injury, but have confirmed that Xherdan Shaqiri will be fit to play after coming off against Southampton last weekend. Ryan Shawcross will be in contention to return to the heart of the defence after recovering from a long term back injury.

    Sunderland will be wary of Stoke's impressive away run of late, they have kept clean sheets in their previous four away games while winning three. If Jack Butland keeps a clean sheet at the Stadium of Light he will equal a club record of five consecutive away clean sheets held by the great George Banks. Stoke however have never won at Sunderland in the Premier League and Sunderland wound up with a comfortable 3-1 victory in the corresponding fixture last season.

    Those expecting goals though should probably avoid this one. Sam Allardyce has made no secret of his desire to shore up the Sunderland defence, and they have been struggling to score in front of their own fans this season. Stoke, although effective on the road, have won their last four games by a 1-0 scoreline. They also have the worst chance conversion rate of the entire Premier League at just 10%, and the games they have been involved in this season have produced a current League low of 23 goals. A thriller is not on the cards here.

    Prediction

    A dour game is in prospect here, potentially won by a set piece or a mistake. If Sunderland's defence can replicate their heroic performance from Monday night then I see the Black Cats nicking a 1-0 win. This will hinge on how well Defoe can perform, Sunderland's survival is largely relying on his form.

    You can get Sunderland to win at 11/5
    You can get Stoke to win at 13/10
    If you like my prediction, you can get it at 13/2 (All bets through Skybet)


    By Darren Beck (@DarrenBeck13)
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    Item Reviewed: Sunderland v Stoke: Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Darren Beck
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