Sunderland vs Burnley Preview: Clarets keen to be up for the cup

Sunderland vs Burnley Preview: Clarets keen to be up for the cup

Both sides are united in their aim to avoid relegation, but the FA Cup could prove a welcome distraction from their respective league toils.

Jordan Eyre

Burnley begin their FA Cup journey with a trip to the Stadium of Light on Saturday, for what will be their second meeting with Sunderland in a week.

The Clarets trounced David Moyes’ men by four goals to one on New Year’s Eve, with Andre Gray’s hat-trick and Ashley Barnes’ late penalty giving Burnley an emphatic lead to which Jermain Defoe’s late strike could not threaten.

Both sides faced high-flying opposition in Manchester City and Liverpool respectively on Monday, with Sean Dyche’s side going down at the Etihad Stadium while, on Wearside, the Mackems earned a commendable draw against the second-placed Reds.

Previous encounters

Burnley fans will not have to dig too deep through the archives for their last meeting with Sunderland, with that New Year’s Eve victory a fitting way to see in 2017. The hosts trebled their 1-0 lead in just three second-half minutes through Gray, before fellow striker Barnes put the game beyond Sunderland.

Defoe’s late consolation thereafter was his second goal in as many games against Dyche’s men: the veteran striker was also on the scoresheet the last time Burnley travelled to the North East, as his opener and Connor Wickham’s goal earned the Mackem’s a comfortable victory during the Clarets’ previous top-flight outing.

The pair last met in the FA Cup in 1979, when a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor preceded a 3-0 win for Burnley at Sunderland’s former Roker Park home. But it’s the latter who have the better head-to-head record in the famous old competition: they have five wins to Burnley’s two.

Season statistics

Burnley will be hoping for much more in the FA Cup than what they produced in the EFL Cup this season – they were dumped out in the second round by League Two outfit and local neighbours Accrington Stanley.

That defeat set the tone for a season of disappointment on the road in all competitions, with an unlikely point at Manchester United the only game Dyche’s side have avoided defeat in. Their away record reads: 10 games, nine defeats, three goals scored and 21 conceded.

Sunderland, meanwhile, fared slightly better in the EFL Cup – they were eliminated by Southampton in the fourth round, after overcoming lowly Shrewsbury Town and then Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.

Their home record in the Premier League has improved drastically, which may offer encouragement for another positive result at home to the Clarets. After losing four of their opening five home matches – the other a 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion – they have 10 points from their last five at home.

Team news

Sunderland will have to contend with a lengthy injury list for Burnley’s visit, with the Mackems missing a total of nine first-team players for Saturday’s clash. They will be forced to make at least two changes from their last match against the Clarets – both Lamine Kone and Victor Anichebe were withdrawn at Turf Moor.

Burnley, meanwhile, have a clean bill of health, and will be boosted by the return of midfielder Joey Barton. The 34-year-old was registered in time for the Clarets’ trip to Barton’s former club on Monday, and that game saw him serve the remaining one match from a carry-over suspension imposed by the Scottish FA for betting offences.