Norwich City-Sunderland Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)

The Premier League's bottom club Sunderland will be desperate for three points when they welcome Norwich City to the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon.

Sunderland (2-3-11) have been much-improved since the appointment of Gus Poyet as manager, but have still only picked up eight points under the new man and remain a full five from safety. The Black Cats progressed to the semi-finals of the League Cup on Tuesday evening thanks to a shock win over Chelsea, and midfielder Sebastian Larsson is sure that the win will boost the players' confidence.

"It can never be a bad thing to win a cup, or get as far as you can," said Larsson. "People say, 'You will have extra games' - but it's easy to play matches if you're winning them and much tougher if you're losing them. So the extra effort won't matter.

"When you beat a team like Chelsea there is no way it's ever going to be seen as a negative. At the end of the day though, the Premier League is our bread and butter. We know we have to sort that situation out as soon as we can - a cup run won't count for much if we can't do that. We have to forget about Tuesday's victory quickly - because Norwich on Saturday is a very big game for us."

Chris Hughton's Norwich (5-3-8) have lost just two of their last six league games to shoot up the table and move five points clear of the relegation zone.

Despite his team's excellent recent form, Hughton revealed that he was disappointed not to pick up more than just a point in last weekend's 1-1 draw with Swansea City.

"I think you're always frustrated because it was a really good opportunity, especially seeing how the results went at the weekend and that it was a home game that you really want to win," said the Norwich manager. "Sometimes when the game finishes, on the balance of play - looking at what they have on the counter-attack - it is also important that we didn't lose the game as we're on a decent run at the moment."

Sunderland have doubts over the fitness of Jack Colback (illness) and Kieren Westwood (shoulder), while Carlos Cuellar (hip) is out. Norwich are expected to be missing Anthony Pilkington (hamstring), Ryan Snodgrass (knee), Mark Bunn (ankle), Alexander Tettey (ankle), Ricky van Wolfswinkel (ankle) and Elliott Bennett (knee).

The Canaries have failed to win on their last two visits to the Stadium of Light and go into this season's game with the worst defence in the Premier League - 21 goals conceded in eight matches. Hughton's side have won just three of their last 18 league games on the road.

Sunderland have more red cards (four) and own goals (five) than any other Premier League side this season. They have kept just one clean at the Stadium of Light in eight attempts since the start of the campaign, and have already matched their number of home defeats from the whole of last season (six).

Norwich took four points off the Black Cats last season, winning 2-1 at Carrow Road and drawing 1-1 in the north east. Craig Gardner scored both of Sunderland's goals in those fixtures.

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