Just one win in nine top flight matches for Steve Bruce’s side has halted their terrific start to the season and not since their 1-0 victory versus Arsenal over a month ago have the Black Cats put in a decent performance. Defeats at Fulham and Wigan, both without scoring, were followed by a solitary point at home to Portsmouth and they shipped four at Manchester City last time out.
Sunderland have won on five occasions on home soil already this term but some have questioned Bruce’s tactical awareness in recent weeks and Darren Bent, who enjoyed such a tremendous start to his career with the north-east side, has suddenly stopped scoring. Strike partner Kenwyne Jones looks a shadow of the player that impressed so often last season while the hosts will also be without the excellent Michael Turner in defence on Saturday. >
Turner was dismissed, perhaps harshly, at Eastlands last time out and it spells trouble for a Sunderland defence heavily reliant on the ex-Hull man. Nobody outside the top six has scored more goals on their travels than Everton and David Moyes has finally seen some improvement from his team over the past month after an inconsistent start.
Everton still retain plenty of ability, despite the loss of promising youngster Jack Rodwell through injury, and they responded well to the derby defeat by Liverpool. The Toffees were unlucky to be on the end of a 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park that day but score draws with Tottenham, Chelsea and Birmingham since indicate they are slowly finding their stride and I rate them good enough to earn at least a share of the spoils in a game neither will want to lose.
Sunderland, just 2.40 in the match odds, look short on confidence to me and the away side will fancy their chances of causing a mini upset. It could kick-start their season and a win would bring the Merseyside club level on points with Saturday’s opponents.
2pts Lay Sunderland vs. Everton @ 2.40 (Betfair)