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Preview: Sunderland v Southampton

by Ashley Houghton

A look ahead to the final home of the season as Southampton travel north.

Paolo Di Canio will be looking to protect his unbeaten start at the Stadium of Light as the Black Cats host Southampton on Sunday.

The Italian has watched on as his side have defeated Everton and drawn with Stoke in his two opening games on Wearside.

And he’ll hope to extend that run against the Saints; Mauricio Pochettino’s side have won just once in their last eight away games.

Neither side has mathematically guaranteed their Barclays Premier League status, though a win for either team will do just that as Southampton will move to an unassailable 42 points whilst Sunderland would move to 41 points with a far superior goal difference to Wigan in 18th place.

If Sunderland are to win, they’ll have to break their recent duck against the Saints who haven’t lost at the Stadium of Light on their last four visits; winning once, and drawing on three occasions.

The Saints have scored 22 goals in their 18 away games this season, more than any other club outside the top five, though they haven’t scored in their last three games.

Matt Kilgallon is the only player in the Sunderland squad to have ever scored a goal against the Saints, though Di Canio’s side will be looking to extend their good scoring record against Southampton which has seen them score in nine of the last 11 games between the two sides.

The Black Cats will be without the suspended Craig Gardner and Stephane Sessegnon whilst Titus Bramble, Steven Fletcher, Wes Brown and Lee Cattermole are all injured.

Pochettino will be without Gaston Ramirez who is suspended whilst Morgan Schneiderlin is doubtful but could return.

Either side could move as high as 11th with a victory, though defeat would leave both looking over their shoulders ahead of the final weekend of the season.

Sunday’s game with be the 57th clash between the two sides with Southampton just edging the record with 23 wins; Sunderland have won 21 of the clashes whilst there has also been 12 draws.