“On the pitch is where it matters, and I don’t see a David v Goliath. If anything, I see us just better than them, man for man.” Joey Barton on his Fleetwood team ahead of the trip to Sunderland. These comments could be enough motivation for the Black Cats to show their opponents who really is the better team.
Sunderland will be backed by another large crowd at the Stadium of Light. Ex-Newcastle player Barton can expect a rough ride both off the pitch and now possibly on it. Sunderland cannot underestimate Fleetwood as they travel North sitting sixth in the table, three points behind their hosts.
Sunderland v Fleetwood Town Preview
Max Power is suspended following his red card last week against Oxford. Jack Ross is therefore likely to give Dylan McGeouch his first league start for Sunderland since signing in the summer. Elsewhere, Adam Mathews and Glenn Loovens should be in contention having been missing through injury recently. Duncan Watmore and Aiden McGeady remain on the injured list.
Joey Barton will be without Wes Burns. The winger was sent off during last week’s victory over Bradford City. At present this is the only absentee expected as Town have a fully fit squad to choose from. Don’t be surprised to see Town use a counter-attacking tactic to utilise the pace they have going forward.
Sunderland are currently unbeaten in the league this season with four wins and two draws. Their home form has brought two victories so far. A last minute winner against Charlton gave them their first three points. This was then followed by a straightforward 3-0 victory over Scunthorpe. Last time out at home, the Black Cats came from behind and the disappointment of having Max Power sent off in the first half to claim a hard-fought draw against Oxford.
Fleetwood were beaten on the opening day. However, they are undefeated since that day in the league. The Cod Army are unbeaten away from home, winning two, drawing one and have not conceded in any of them.
Ones to Watch
Several players on either side are well worth watching. For Sunderland, young striker Josh Maja has four goals in six league games and is improving all of the time. Lynden Gooch has impressed so far too with four assists and two goals. New defensive signing Jack Baldwin is looking a steal at £200,000. Scottish international Dylan McGeouch will be looking to impress in midfield on what is likely to be his first league start.
Forward Ched Evans will need to be closely watched by Sunderland’s defenders. His latest goal came last weekend against Bradford at home. Young forward Ashley Hunter, who has been converted into a winger, has the ability to cause problems for the opposition, especially on the counter-attack. Experienced former Tottenham and Burnley midfielder Dean Marney could be key in their midfield; a tough tackler but he is also a good distributor of the ball.
This will be a tough game for Sunderland. Joey Barton will have his Fleetwood team fired up. However, with his pre-match comments in the minds of the Black Cats, he could wish he made different comments. Fleetwood will arrive at the Stadium of Light full of confidence having played well on their travels. One of their away victories was a 5-0 demolition of Scunthorpe United. They are also yet to concede on the road.
Sunderland will be in no mood to let go of their unbeaten start to the season. Jack Ross will be expecting a tough match and will have his side well prepared. Should Sunderland play as they can, then a home victory should be seen by another big League One crowd on Wearside. This, however, will be no easy game for either team.