Manchester City need to make amends for the under-par showing against Borussia Dortmund and try to put extra pressure on leaders Chelsea with a win over Sunderland, a team that have yet to lose a Premier League game this season.
The Black Cats arrive at Etihad full of confidence, with new signing Steven Fletcher in impressive goalscoring form.
After the 2-1 victory over Fulham ended the four-match winless run, City were expected to continue showing improvement, but they did no such thing.
Roberto Mancini’s side were completely outclassed by Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League match in midweek and were very lucky not to have lost the game.
The European clash not only proved the Citizens are still not a force to be reckoned with in Europe, but also showed the team are far from the desired form.
With Sunderland’s unbeaten run also in mind, odds of 1.29 (2/7) offered at Paddy Power on home win do not look too tempting.
Javi Garcia is out with a hamstring problem, but Douglas Maicon could return. We should see some changes to the starting line-up, with Gareth Barry and Carlos Tevez both expected to start.
Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Hart – Maicon, Kompany, Nastasic, Kolarov – Y. Toure, Barry – Silva, Tevez, Aguero – Dzeko.
Sunderland have progressed a great deal since Martin O’Neill took over the reigns midway through last season and the Black Cats continue to impress.
The Stadium of Light outfit may have won just one of their first five league games, but they have escaped defeat at Arsenal, Swansea and West Ham, while playing out a 1-1 draw at home with Liverpool.
Considering the circumstances, everybody at the club can be happy with the return of 7 points from 5 games, and there are no doubts the Black Cats go into this game high on spirits.
Given that City will have had less than 72 hours to recover from the difficult match against Borussia Dortmund, I see some value in backing Sunderland with +1.5 Asian handicap, at odds of 2.10 (11/10) offered by BetVictor.
Combative midfielder Lee Cattermole is banned, while Phil Bardsley, Carlos Cuellar and Wes Brown are all short of match fitness.
Nonetheless, Martin O’Neil can count on former City winger Adam Johnson and striker Steven Fletcher, who’s scored 5 goals in his first 4 Premier League games for the club.
Probable starting line-up (4-4-1-1): Mignolet – Gardner, Bramble, O’Shea, Rose – Johnson, Larsson, Colback, McClean – Sessegnon – Fletcher.