Southampton have experienced a turbulent week. Nicola Cortese resigned as chairman, and the club’s owner Katharina Liebherr has installed herself as his temporary replacement. The Saints’ manager Mauricio Pochettino had previously stated that if Cortese left then so would he, but he has confirmed in the past week he will be staying with Southampton.
On the pitch things are more positive, the team getting back to winning ways in the league last week against West Brom. The side are comfortably in the top half, largely thanks to their sturdy early season defence and the form of England internationals Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez and Rickie Lambert. Should Southampton’s English trio shine, all three points will be heading back to the south coast.
Sunderland boss Gus Poyet meanwhile will be delighted that his side’s cup form is finally rubbing off in the league. The League Cup semi-finalists produced a masterful performance against Fulham last weekend, firing four goals past the Londoners.
They largely had winger Adam Johnson to thank for their victory, the former Manchester City man powering home three goals. The hat-trick, the first of his professional career, moves him to the top of Sunderland’s scoring charts on four. His performance was reminiscent of the dazzling displays that convinced Manchester City to wrestle him from Middlesborough, and they will have to continue if Sunderland are to avoid the drop. A win on Saturday could see them climb out of the relegation-zone, and as high as fifteenth.
KICK-OFF: Saturday, 12:45pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS:
Sunderland 2 (Bardsley, Larsson) Southampton (Yoshida), League Cup, November 2013
Southampton 1 (Fonte) Sunderland 1 (Giaccherini), Premier League, August 2013
Sunderland 1 (Bardsley) Southampton 1 (Puncheon), Premier League, May 2013
Southampton have not beaten Sunderland in their last six meetings.
Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez is joint third highest English goalscorer in the league this season.
Sunderland’s top goal scorer meanwhile is Adam Johnson on four, having scored a hat-trick last week.
The Black Cat’s Wes Brown is one of only two players, the other being Kevin Nolan, to have been sent off twice this season.
Sunderland to win: 3.1
Southampton to win: 2.3
TV: Live on BT Sport 1 at 12.45pm, highlights on BBC1 at 10.20pm.