A new year. A new chapter. A new beginning.
Sunderland will begin 2019 by turning Blackpool red and white on New Year’s Day, kick-off 3pm.
Backed by an astonishing 8,000 fans, Jack Ross’ side will be hoping to produce a performance and result befitting of the backing as they look to kick start the new calendar year with three points.
2018 finished on a rather damp note as the Lads drew at home to Shrewsbury Town on Saturday, a game which saw Josh Maja bag his 14th goal of the season in all competitions.
While the first-half of the year brought frustration, disappointment and heartache, the latter six months of the year have been the complete opposite.
Hope, passion and pride have been restored and the red and white faithful are beginning to believe once again…
And so they should.
The Black Cats begin 2019 having suffered just two Sky Bet League One defeats at the midway point.
Sitting third behind Portsmouth and Luton Town, Ross’ side are unbeaten at home in 13 league matches and they have scored in 31 consecutive league matches – dating back to April last season.
Blackpool, meanwhile, have ambitions of the play-offs as they head into the new year.
Despite being eight points off Charlton Athletic in sixth, the Lancashire club do have a game in hand so should results go their way in the opening couple of weeks in January then they could well be in the driving seat.
However, Terry McPhillips’ side are without a win in their previous four matches – picking up just one point from a possible 12 over the festive period.
Bryan Oviedo will be assessed ahead of the trip to Bloomfield Road after picking up an injury on Saturday which forced him off after 50 minutes.
George Honeyman and Adam Matthews have missed the last couple of matches through injury, and Jack Ross has hinted at changes as he looks to freshen up his squad following a hectic set of fixtures.
Sunderland head to Bloomfield Road having won three of the previous six matches against Blackpool. With a win on their last visit in 2011, the Lads are unbeaten on the road against the Lancashire club since 1976.
DON’T MISS THE ACTION
Tickets for the match are sold out.
BBC Radio Newcastle’s Nick Barnes will be broadcasting live right here on safc.com from 2pm.
As ever, there will be comprehensive coverage across our digital channels including safc.com’s matchday blog and live updates on Twitter via @SunderlandAFC.