Sunderland will be looking to get back to winning ways and put an end to a run of draws, having picked up two in a row. They take on an Accrington Stanley side who are winless in eight matches in the league.
Sunderland v Accrington Stanley
Friday, 15 February,
Stadium of Light
EFL League One
Sunderland find themselves in 4th, and in a EFL League One Play-Off spot, but the side from the North East are ten points away from leaders Luton Town. Despite still carrying healthy promotion prospects, Sunderland will feel like they should be performing better than they have done in recent weeks. Sunderland are currently on a nine game unbeaten run, however, the run consists of only two wins and seven draws, which means they have dropped fourteen points during the run. In the last nine games, Sunderland have scored, at most, a goal per game. This shows that the Black Cats have an issue with killing games off, Sunderland are vulnerable to their opposition scoring equalisers, hence the high volume of draws they have picked up recently. Each of the draws have ended 1-1. Four of their six 1-1 draws have came after being in winning positions, three of those games saw Sunderland take the lead in the first half, with the opposition equaliser coming in the second half.
Despite drawing seven home games, Sunderland have enjoyed playing at the Stadium of Light this season. The Black Cats are unbeaten at home in the league this year after fifteen games played, their last defeat coming in April last year. The key area of Sunderland’s game has been their ability to keep out goals. When playing at home, Sunderland concede, on average, less than a goal per game (0.87), however when playing away from home, Sunderland have conceded on average exactly a goal per game (1.00). Looking at the scoring stats this has been essential for Sunderland as they are not particularly high scorers, at home they score on average 1.87 goals and when they play away in the league that average decreases to 1.53 goals.
An issue that won’t help their lack of goals, Sunderland’s top goalscorer Josh Maja, with fifteen league goals, has joined French side Bordeaux in the January transfer window. To fill the void, Jack Ross brought in Will Grigg from Wigan Athletic. Along with a great chant for the fans, Grigg brings League One experience from playing at this level with Wigan Athletic in the 2015/2016. Will Grigg ‘was on fire’ that season as he fired twenty-five goals and laid on five assists helping Wigan make a return to the Championship, which built his cult hero status. Grigg is still to get off the mark for Sunderland after two games played and no goals. Maja has left a massive hole to fill for other strikers at the Stadium of Light, as Wyke only has a single goal in the league this year and Grigg is acclimatising to playing in his new team. The next highest scorer for Sunderland in the league has been, the midfielder, Aiden McGeady, with seven goal in the league.
The away side have been on a dismal form of late in the league. Accrington haven’t picked up a win in six matches in the league. The Lancashire club have fared even worse on the road recently only picking up one win in ten away matches, which came against Plymouth in December.
In away matches, Accrington have struggled to get amongst the goals this season. On average, the away side pick up less than a goal per game (0.88). A worse stat is the fact they are conceding, on average, at least a goal conceded per game (1.31). John Coleman’s side have shown this hasn’t just been an issue on the road, as at home they also concede on average, 1.31 goals per game at the Wham Stadium. The away side have scored the second least amount of goals in the league this season at twenty-seven, with only bottom side AFC Wimbledon scoring less than them in League One.
In terms of match stats, Accrington Stanley games are highly likely to end with Accrington failing to pick up a clean sheet as the have only managed six in twenty-nine league games. As well as this, Accrington’s run of games has seen them beaten without reply. Accrington have failed to score in four away matches in a row. Home and away, Stanley have been without a goal in five matches in the league.
Sunderland are without any major injury concerns going into this one. The main concerns for Jack Ross will be that Adam Matthews and Tom Flanagan are both on four yellow cards. This means that if either of them pick up a yellow card in Friday’s match, they will be suspended for the game against Gillingham.
Likewise, Accrington’s squad are fresh going into Friday’s fixture with Sunderland with no injuries or suspensions.
I do not envisage Accrington picking up a win here, going by their recent away form and the fact Sunderland have not lost at home this season so far. The bookies seem to agree as they have made Sunderland 8/11 favourites to get the win, Accrington have been given 7/2 odds to pick up a shock win against Sunderland.
It would be worth looking at the win to nil market for this match. Accrington have failed to score in their last five matches, whilst Sunderland’s last four wins have ended with a win to nil victory. For Sunderland to win to nil, bookies give you odds of 2/1. Be wary of taking any bets that rely on multiple goals to be scored. Sunderland have not been particularly high scorers of goals recently and Accrington, as previously stated, have found it hard to get on the scoresheet recently. If you want to risk it, you can get odds of 11/4 for Sunderland to pick up a win and both teams to score. Also Sunderland to win and over 2.5 goals to be scored is priced at 13/8. A more worthwhile bet would be Sunderland to win and Under 2.5 Goals which has odds of 3/1, with it being highly unlikely that there would be a high scoreline.
Although Grigg is yet to open a scoring account for Sunderland, this would be perfect opportunity to do just that with his side coming up against a team in poor defensive form like Accrington. For Grigg to score anytime gets a price of 13/10.
Another market to be mindful of is the card market. Both sides are close to the bottom of the League One Fair Play table. Sunderland have picked up fifty-three yellow cards and six red cards in the league this season, whereas Accrington have picked up fifty-five yellow cards and three red cards in the league this season. In the last five games Accrington have averaged thirty-eight booking points and Sunderland have averaged seventeen. You can get odds of 7/4 for their to be between 35 to 55 booking points in the game.
Sunderland to win Under 2.5 Goals (3/1)
Sunderland to win to nil (2/1)
35 to 55 booking points (7/4)