Sunderland vs Birmingham predictions: Pressure building for Rooney
Wayne Rooney’s wait for a win as Birmingham manager goes on after his side threw away a two-goal lead to draw at home to Ipswich last Saturday and things may not get any easier at Sunderland.
Since replacing John Eustace with Rooney, the Blues have picked up only one point from four league outings with his first three games in charge resulting in defeats against Middlesbrough, Hull and Southampton.
Sunderland have had a stop-start Championship campaign so far but they have responded well to a three-game losing run, taking four points from their last two meetings with Norwich and Swansea.
The Black Cats are on the brink of the playoff places and they will again have high hopes of breaking into the top-six just as they did last season - but this is a game they must be winning.
Dan Ballard and Luke O'Nien are suspended for Sunderland while Jay Matete, Timothee Pembele, Aji Alese, Nathan Bishop, Eliezer Mayenda and Corry Evans are out injured.
Birmingham’s Krystian Bielik picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Ipswich and is also suspended while Lee Buchanan is ruled out through injury.
The Blues are also missing Keshi Anderson and Tyler Roberts while George Hall is a doubt.
Sunderland have won four of their seven home league games this season and last term they completed a league double of Birmingham, winning both meetings 2-1.
The Black Cats have seen both teams score in only two of their last eight Championship clashes, last time being held to a goalless draw at Swansea.
Birmingham have failed to win any of their opening four league games under Rooney’s charge while they have also lost their last five away matches in the Championship.
The Blues have failed to score in three of those five away defeats and they have conceded ten goals along the way.
Jack Clarke has been the star man for Sunderland this season with nine goals in 16 appearances, with the tricky wideman averaging a goal every 149 minutes.
The Stadium of Light is a fortress when things are going well and Sunderland should be feeling much happier about things after their last two performances.
The Black Cats’ 3-1 win at home to Norwich ended a three-game losing run and they built on that with a respectable point away at Swansea, where they would have been frustrated to draw having won the shot count 25-3.
The Swans did go down to ten men after half an hour but, even so, Tony Mowbray’s side were well on top beforehand and could have been a couple of goals to the good.
So back at home, against a Birmingham side short on confidence following a four-game winless run, Sunderland ought to stamp their authority.
Sunderland have won four of their seven home league games this term and they can take maximum points against Birmingham, who have suffered five straight away defeats.
All seven of Sunderland’s league wins this term have featured at least two goals and this should do so too.
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