“It Could Be A Rather Hostile Atmosphere” – The Real EFL Pundits Preview Sunderland v Stoke City

This week in the Championship, two sides who have both made managerial changes come head to head at The Stadium of Light. 

Sunderland, who sacked Tony Mowbray earlier in the season, will be looking to get their season back on track following back-to-back league losses, away at Ipswich Town and at home to Hull City.

Michael Beale’s side had an impressive run over the Christmas period, picking up seven points over the three festive fixtures and coming into this, they’ll be hoping to replicate those performances as they look to get their playoff charge back underway.

Stoke City on the other hand, who sacked Alex Neil earlier in the season and have since appointed Steven Schumacher, have had a less than impressive first half of the season, where they now find themselves sat 19th in the league.

The hope at the Bet365 stadium however is that this change in manager, coupled with some transfer window movement, can help propel the side away from the relegation battle and back into the fight for playoffs.

Three Real EFL pundits have given their views ahead of what could turn out to be a pivotal game in both of these club’s seasons.

Charlie Beeston

“This match is arguably one of the hardest to predict in the whole of the EFL this weekend. On the one hand, its a game between 10th and 19th, with the side higher in the table being at home, therefore it would be easy to predict they’d be victorious. But I don’t see it going like that. 

Stoke look revitalised under Schumacher and although they lost to Birmingham City last week, they were on a seven game unbeaten league run prior to that. However, five draws in that run will be a stat that the former Plymouth Argyle boss will want to shake off. 

I think the Potters will struggle to shake that title of ‘draw specialists’ in this though, and I can’t envisage Sunderland getting the victory.” 

Sunderland 1-1 Stoke

Ivan Newsome

”Both clubs have rather lofty ambitions of promotion back to the Premier League yet neither look likely to do it this season. One of the main storylines is no doubt the change of management, Stoke decided to bring in Steven Schumacher in what looks to be a very shrewd appointment given his time at the club so far.

As for Sunderland, the sacking of Tony Mowbray followed by the hiring of Michael Beale has very much backfired, and the fans do not seem to be on Beale’s side at all. The Black Cats have slipped down to 10th in the table and their play-off ambitions are slowly getting away from them,

After two losses in a row, it could be a rather hostile atmosphere at the Stadium of Light, especially if the hosts go behind early. For that reason, as well as seeing improvements in recent weeks, Stoke may just edge this one.”

Sunderland 1-2 Stoke

Gary Hutchinson

“I’m not sure this is going to be a classic. On paper, Sunderland look to be favourites – they’re 10th and fighting for a play-off spot, whilst relegation still haunts Stoke.

That doesn’t mean the game will go according to form. Sunderland have looked worse since they sacked Tony Mowbray, and it was the former Mackems’ boss who helped sink Stoke last week from the Birmingham dugout. Can Michael Beale do the same?

It’s going to be tough. These feel like two teams going in opposite directions. Sunderland supporters aren’t happy with Michael Beale, and the controversy around the Newcastle game and that bar decoration has weakened belief in the owner. Meanwhile, Schumacher might not be flying just yet, but he’s a coach I suspect can get them up the Championship. To that end, I’m calling a shock here.”

Sunderland 0-1 Stoke

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