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Fixture News

In opposition: Sunderland - form guide

4 February 2022

Sunderland play host on Saturday afternoon in a fixture that is seldom kind to Rovers.

Everything was trending in the right direction for Sunderland towards the end of 2021. The Black Cats were sitting third in the Sky Bet League One table and within grasp of an automatic promotion spot back to the Championship – a division they have not competed on since 2017/18.

Since the last meeting between Rovers and Sunderland in late-December, Sunderland have won just one of their last five matches, and sacked head coach Lee Johnson.

The decision to sack Johnson was made the day after the team’s 6-0 league defeat to Bolton Wanderers last Saturday. In fact, at the time of writing, the decision of appointing a caretaker manager has not been made yet.

Despite all of the “negativity” surrounding the Wearside club, the Black Cats are still in good shape to earn a place in the League One play-offs come the end of the season. Sunderland currently sit third place in the league table on 54 points – two points behind Wigan in second place. Although, Wigan have three games in-hand. In December alone, the team won four, lost two and drew two games across all competitions. But things have been different since the start of the New Year.

Much like Rovers last opponent Rotherham, Sunderland has the ability to score goals in droves. They have scored 53 league goals this season, but have conceded 39 goals – the most of any club in the top-half of the league table. Nothing highlights this more than a thrilling 3-3 draw away match at Adams Park to Wycombe Wanderers to begin January.

Defensively, the team appeared to be getting back on track in December, as the Black Cats posted three clean sheets in the Christmas month. However, since that time, Sunderland suffered a 3-0 loss to Lincoln City at the Stadium of Light, as well as a somewhat disappointing 1-1 draw with Accrington Stanley and the 6-0 defeat to Bolton. The Black Cats are averaging under one goal per game since the start of the New Year. In all, the Black Cats have secured 10 clean sheets on the season including a 0-0 draw and have been shutout in eight other contests by the opposition.

The Black Cats enter Saturday’s game against Rovers having won just six of their last 15 games across all competitions, adding four losses and five draws. In league play, Sunderland has won five of their last 10 league fixtures, mixed with two losses and three draws during that span.

Since dropping down to League One from the Premier League and Championship, respectfully, Sunderland owns a record of five wins and two draws against Doncaster Rovers. This includes a 3-0 defeat of Rovers just before Christmas.

They are something of a wounded animal and the signing of Jermaine Defoe has brought in a bumper crowd for Saturday’s fixture. There’s a level of expectation among Sunderland fans that it will be a happy homecoming for the former England international.

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