Sunderland take on Wycombe this weekend in Sky Bet League One as they aim to keep their title challenge on track.
The Black Cats have been going along nicely this season but will need to be on form here – the Chairboys have really picked up their form of late.
Ahead of the game, then, we spoke to Gary McLaughlin as usual from We Are Wearside to preview things…
After FA Cup action last week – will it take any time to get back to league speed this weekend?
I don’t think so. We used the Checkatrade Trophy to field some youth and fringe players, but overall both games have helped us continue our momentum. If anything, the fixtures should help us.
From the Checkatrade Trophy win – can you see anyone with a chance of starting this weekend?
Not many of them to be honest. We have quite a settled starting eleven, who can’t stop winning – so it wouldn’t seem right to disrupt that because of a victory over a League Two side. The exceptions to that are probably Josh Maja and Max Power, who have featured a fair amount this season and are both players Jack Ross likes. Maja is probably the more likely of the two to start.
Stats have floated around about Sunderland having one of the fewest ‘touches in the opposing box’ stats in the league – is that something that might concern going forwards?
Absolutely not. Stats are a funny thing in that you can use the same stat to argue completely opposite points – you can make them mean whatever you want them to.
Our success this season has not been from outplaying teams, we haven’t outplayed many (if any) so far. We’re clinical up front and hard to score against, and that’s because we have better quality players.
It’s unusual in this league for your mistakes to be punished, which is what we are doing to teams. Back to the stat, I’d argue the fact we’re a goal behind Peterborough (with a game in hand) and have the best defensive record in the league are far more telling facts than how many touches in the box we have.
I’d even go further to say the stat, combined with our record, says that there is more to come rather than anything to be worried about.
Jon McLaughlin has pulled out of Scotland duty and is available this weekend. Is that a sign of the commitment this new bunch of players have to the club?
Yeah, it’s great to see. He has spoken at length about how much he is loving playing for Sunderland and he is in amazing form. McLaughlin is not daft, he knows he isn’t going to start for Scotland right now, so why waste his time warming their bench when he can be keeping more clean sheets for us?
In our form at home, against an inconsistent side, I can’t predict anything other than a home win. I’ll go for 2-0.