Manchester City vs. Sunderland: City Stars to Watch vs. Black Cats

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistOctober 6, 2012

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 23:  Joe Hart of Manchester City in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at Etihad Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Defending champion Manchester City will be looking to win back-to-back Premier League matches for the first time this season on Saturday when it takes on Sunderland. They are two of just three teams left without a loss in league play.

City currently sits four points behind Chelsea for the top spot and should have the sole focus of earning all three points against the Black Cats. Let's take a look at three players who will have to lead the way if the Citizens are going to do exactly that.


Sergio Aguero

Aguero is coming off a season in which he scored 30 goals and added 12 assists across all competitions, but he hasn't been able to rediscover that elite form so far. The Argentine striker has just one goal in six appearances during the new campaign.

It's only a matter of time before he gets back on track, though. He should be close to full strength after dealing with a knee injury that hampered him for awhile, which means a goal-scoring barrage should be right around the corner.

Even though Sunderland has only allowed four goals in five games, it has yet to face a team with the amount of firepower City possesses. Aguero should be able to expose some holes in the Black Cats' back line en route to a great match.


Joe Hart

Hart has gone six league games without recording a single clean sheet. He already had three by this point last season, just another example of a slight title hangover Manchester City has endured in the early going.

Life as a goalkeeper isn't easy because so much is dependent on how other players perform, but when at his best, Hart is capable of erasing nearly all of those mistakes with a series of terrific saves. He's still rounding into that form right now.

Luckily, he should be far less busy on Saturday against a lackluster Sunderland attack that's only averaging one goal per game. Expect Hart to finally pick up that first shutout, leading to an uptick in his level of play moving forward.


Vincent Kompany

Along the same line as Hart, it's important for City to improve in the defensive third if the team is going to make a run at repeating as champions. And it all starts with Kompany in the middle, who has been a stalwart over the last four years.

The breakdowns at the back for the Citizens have not been overly concerning. Usually just a minor mistake leading to a scoring chance the opponent capitalized on. In other words, things that can get cleaned up during the course of the season.

It all comes down to the back line being on the same page. City should feel confident with Kompany leading the way. He's managed to step up when there have been hiccups in the past, and he'll likely do it again starting against Sunderland.