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Paolo's Posh Preview: Sunderland

Two of League One’s promotion hopefuls go head-to-head on Saturday, as Peterborough United travel to Sunderland with kick-off at 3pm.
Stadium of Light
Sunderland FC -photo was taken last year. Photo: John Baker

 After a slow start in League One, Darren Ferguson’s men accumulated their first points of the 2020/21 campaign last week, as Jack Taylor and Sammie Szmodics’ injury-time goals saw Posh earn a vital 2-1 victory against Fleetwood at the Weston Homes Stadium.
Now, with three points on the board, Posh turn their attention to another promotion hopefuls, Sunderland AFC, in what is expected to be a thrilling and entertaining fixture at the Stadium of Light.
How do we expect Posh to line-up on Saturday?
Ferguson will have the options of Reece Brown and Siriki Dembele, who played 45 minutes against Fleetwood Town, once again this weekend after they have both finished their isolation periods due to testing positive for coronavirus. Dembele would be expected to return to the starting eleven, but the resurgence of Louis Reed under Ferguson might see Brown selected on the bench for Saturday.
Reed was not in Posh’s management plans for the upcoming season and was listed as available for transfer; however, two excellent performances have seen his career at Posh reignited after Ferguson confirmed he was back in the League One squad. Apart from these two changes, Ferguson would be expected to keep a similar side that beat Fleetwood last weekend.
Team News
The Posh boss will have a fully fit squad ahead of their trip to Stadium of Light after Ricky Jade-Jones and Frazer Blake-Tracey have both recovered from their respective injuries and will be available for selection.   
Predicted Line-up: Pym; Ward, Thompson, Beevers, Kent, Butler; Reed, Taylor, Szmodics; Dembele, Clarke-Harris
Opposition View
The former Premier League giants have endured a rocky last few years, dropping out of England’s top division before finding themselves in League One. Now, after three years, Sunderland will look to end their short stay in League with a return to the Championship hopefully on the cards by the end of May.
Phil Parkinson, Sunderland manager, has seen a promising start to the 2020/21 campaign, with a 2-0 win over last season’s playoff finalists Oxford United after drawing 1-1 against Bristol Rovers on the opening weekend for League One.

Similarly to Posh, the Black Cats were dealt a massive blow in their hopes for a playoff spot last season, missing out due to the EFL’s point-per-game system, finishing in 8th – one place behind Posh.
Ahead of the thrilling tie this weekend, we spoke to Speak Sunderland (@SpeakSAFC) on what we can expect from his side on Saturday and which players should Posh keep an eye on.

"Throughout pre-season and the opening four ‘competitive’ games, we seem to have adopted a 3-4-1-2 style formation. A more than resolute back three means many teams find it hard to break it down. Bailey Wright in the middle provides the leadership and awareness, Jordan Willis provides the pace and power on the right-hand side.

"Leadbitter impressed at the weekend, so I’d expect him to start in midfield alongside Max Power with Denver Hume and Luke O'Nien either side. Expect Hume to see a lot of the ball on the left flank. Maguire will start behind the two strikers, as you may know, even on a bad day he’s a goal threat. A front two of Graham and O’Brien started against Oxford but with four senior strikers, it’s impossible to predict who will start. One thing you can expect is a slow, boring style of play."

Key player: Chris Maguire

"Well, it has to be Chris Maguire. He’s incredible at this level and I’d go as far as saying he’s one of the best players in the league. He can get a goal from literally anywhere on the pitch and on a good day, his set-pieces can be deadly. Loves to wind up the opposition as well." 

Past Meetings
These two sides have only met 10 times in their history, and unfortunately for Posh supporters, Sunderland takes the bragging rights with six wins, while Posh have only won twice and drawn the other two.
However, the encouraging news for Ferguson’s men is the recent history of these fixtures, especially in League One, with Posh unbeaten in the last three games against Sunderland in the Football League.
The two teams last met in August of 2019, as Posh ran out 3-0 winners at the Weston Homes Stadium which saw a Marcus Maddison wonder-strike and Sunderland reduced to nine men. Yet, the previous games in League One ended in a stalemate, proving that these two sides will provide an entertaining and close-fought tie on Saturday.
Last five meetings
Posh 3-0 Sunderland – Aug 2019
Posh 1-1 Sunderland – Apr 2019
Sunderland 2-2 Posh – Oct 2018
Sunderland 2-0 Posh – Sep 2013 (League Cup)
Posh 0-2 Sunderland – Jan 2012 (FA Cup)

Peterborough Matters Prediction

If you are a neutral, then this game will be the one to watch in League One this weekend. Two promotion hopefuls going head-to-head, who have both recruited very strongly over the summer. 

It will be a close-fought game and I can only see one or two goals in the game. 

Sunderland 0-1 Peterborough United