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Premier League Preview: Sunderland - Aston Villa




Bardsley, Cuellar, O'Shea, Rose
Larsson, Cattermole
Johnson, Sessegnon, McClean


Lowton, Vlaar, Lichaj, Bennett

Albrighton, El Ahmadi, Delph, N'Zogbia
Agbonlahor, Benteke

Martin O'Neill welcomes his old club to Wearside with the continued absence of his central defensive duo Titus Bramble (hip) and Wes Brown (calf) leaving his squad notably weakened at the back.

He should, though, have the option of recalling Seb Larsson to his lineup, with the Dane expected to have recovered from the knock that kept him out of Wednesday's Capital One Cup defeat to Middlesbrough.

The visitors also find themselves shorn of a key member of their backline, with Richard Dunne (groin) still not ready for a return to first-team action.

Youngster Joe Bennett will be available, though, returning from his one-match suspension, while Nathan Baker (ankle) and Ciaran Clark (knee) should also be at Paul Lambert's disposal, with both likely to shake off respective recent injuries.

Gary Gardner (cruciate) and Stiliyan Petrov (serious illness) remain long-term absentees for the Midlands side.


  • Saturday's game represents a meeting of the two lowest-scoring teams in the division. Sunderland sits rock bottom of the 'goals for' chart, having netted only six times in its opening eight league games, while Aston Villa is joint-second from the bottom with only one more from nine matches.

  • The only clash between the two clubs since O'Neill took over on Wearside also saw boths club coming into the fixture struggling for goals. Aptly, the game in April, 2012, finished 0-0.

  • Each of these clubs' league form so far this season offers miserable reading, having only secured two wins between them in a combined 17 games.

  • Newcastle front-man Demba Ba currently stands as the Black Cats' second-top goalscorer so far this season, following his own goal in the Tyne-Wear derby. Steven Fletcher (pictured right) is Sunderland's only goalscorer all season with an impressive five tallies.

  • Fletcher's strike partner, Stephane Sessegnon, has not found that net in 17 appearances going into this clash.

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