Sunderland vs QPR Preview: Homesick R's visit Stadium of Light to face under-fire Black Cats

Winless at home in 2017, Sunderland host a QPR side who have not won away this season - will something give on Saturday?

Sunderland vs QPR Preview: Homesick R's visit Stadium of Light to face under-fire Black Cats
Simon Grayson is hoping to turn around his side's fortunes sooner rather than later. (Photo: Getty Images / Ian Horrocks)

Sunderland host QPR in their 12th game of the 2017/18 Championship season on Saturday afternoon with the two sides in need of three points and the confidence boost that comes with it.

The Black Cats sit 23rd in the league table while their opponents are faring slightly better in 16th, with six points separating the two heading into the game.

Home sour rather than sweet for Black Cats

Sunderland's struggles at the Stadium of Light have been well-documented in recent weeks and months, with the club winless at their home ground since December 2016 in all competitions.

Fans hoped relegation would mean that their side would be more competitive this season, but so far that hasn't quite gone to plan with only Bolton Wanderers sitting below them in the Championship.

Simon Grayson saw an improved performance from his side in their 2-2 draw at Preston North End prior to the international break, with Aiden McGeady's second-half equaliser ensuring they had something to show for their efforts.

The Wearsiders have one just once this season - a 3-1 victory away to Norwich City two months ago - and Grayson must turn his side's fortunes around soon if they are to be competitive for the remainder of the season.

McGeady has been Sunderland's main source of goals and creativity this season with three goals and three assists to his name in the league, while joint top-scorer Lewis Grabban has not netted since the win over Norwich although he has been out injured in recent weeks.

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R's looking to end away day hoodoo

While Sunderland have struggled on their own patch, QPR have been less than impressive away from Loftus Road in 2017 with their most recent victory coming in a 4-1 win at Birmingham City in February.

Coincidentally, Birmingham are the only side to have amassed less points than the R's away from home this season while Hull City, Burton Albion and Bolton are level with the Londoners on two points.

On the contrary, their home form has been impressive with 11 points gained at Loftus Road despite their three-game winless run at their home stadium.

Ian Holloway's side last won in the league at home to Ipswich Town in early September, as goals from Jamie Mackie and Luke Freeman secured three points for the R's.

Freeman has been one of the standout players for Holloway so far and was named Whoscored.com's Championship Player of the Month for September with an average rating of 7.78, while attacking trio Mackie, Conor Washington and Matt Smith lead the club's scoring charts with three goals apiece.

QPR enjoyed three conseuctive wins against Saturday's opponents in the Premier League across 2013, 2014 and 2015 and had not lost to Sunderland in four games before last season's League Cup encounter, which saw the Black Cats run out 2-1 winners thanks to Paddy McNair's brace.

Team news

The Black Cats could have two faces back in the first-team squad on Saturday after McNair and Duncan Watmore played 45 minutes for the under-23s on Tuesday night, and Grayson also revealed that Grabban is "not too far away" from a return to the squad.

R's captain and former Sunderland loanee Nedum Onuoha is still out after suffering a hamstring injury in September and is set to be unavailable for a further two months, while fellow defenders Steven Caulker, James Perch and Grant Hall are also unavailable.

Predicted line-ups

Sunderland (4-5-1): Steele; Matthews, O'Shea, Browning, Oviedo; McGeady, Cattermole, Ndong, Gooch, Honeyman; Vaughan.

QPR (4-3-3): Smithies; Bidwell, Caulker, Robinson, Baptiste; Scowen, Freeman, Manning; Mackie, Smith, Washington.