Sunderland Set Sights on First Place This Saturday

Only six games are going ahead this Saturday, of which Sunderland is one of them, who are playing Wycombe Wanderers away. The 12:30 fixture is a big one for both clubs, with it being the first game of the day and with no Wigan or Rotherham not participating in any games until the following weekend on the 15th of January.

A Sunderland victory would see them go ahead of Rotherham, with Rotherham railing by 2 points yet with a game in hand. Sunderland made it to the Quarter Finals of the EFL Cup, in which they recently lost 5-1 to Arsenal. Considering EFL cup betting had Arsenal as a firm favourite (though the same can’t be said for the semi-final against Liverpool), they will be satisfied in reaching the Quarters. Losing 5-1 is never a boost for morale, however.

What is a boost, though, is having fewer games in your schedule – something that is even more important for League 1 teams, who must endure playing all 23 teams twice in the season. The reason why Sunderland are playing this Saturday and Rotherham are not is because of Sunderland’s shock defeat to Mansfield Town in the FA Cup 1st round, where the league 1 team won 0-1 away.

The lack of cup games may work in Sunderland’s favour, as Rotherham are set to face QPR away in the FA Cup this Saturday – shortly after seeing Sunderland either surpass them in the league or not.

Regardless of the result, Sunderland will be playing twice before Rotherham’s next game on the 15th. Sunderland host Lincoln City on the 11th in a midweek game, where they will be more confident than the away game at Wycombe. Regardless, taking advantage of their two games in hand can be a huge psychological advantage, even with so many games left to be played, and would also bode well for their promotion push.

4th place Wycombe, too, has something to gain by beating 2nd place Sunderland. Whilst they can’t overtake Sunderland, they could overtake Wigan Athletic. Due to the FA Cup 3rd round fixture against Blackburn Rovers, Wigan will also not play until next weekend on the 15th of January. 

Winning their next two games could see Wigan go straight to first place, providing Sunderland drop points against Lincoln. Whilst this isn’t likely, there will be a 4 day period in which the top 4 is going to undergo a serious reshuffling, with the pressure potentially put on Rotheram and Wigan to win their games in hand.

Wycombe vs Sunderland

Ahead of the clash, Wycombe interviewed Speak Sunderland (non-official Sunderland Twitter Account) to understand more about what to expect from the away team this weekend. When asked how important this fixture is, Speak Sunderland replied “It’s important certainly, but at this stage in the season, every fixture is important whether it’s against a promotion rivals or a relegation-threatened side. On paper, this may be our biggest test yet and a win for either side could be a huge confidence boost going forward for both sides.”

Speak Sunderland also went on to say that Sunderland hasn’t been as one dimensional as previous seasons, being more unpredictable in attack with a higher press. 

Of course, with Wycombe being a well-organised team conceding only 27 goals this season so far, it will be an interesting battle across the pitch.

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