The Black Cats were just eliminated from the FA Cup quarterfinals by Everton, while Man City was held to a 1-1 draw against Stoke City. Now, both squads will look to add another three points to their EPL totals.
The two met on New Year's Day of this season, as Sunderland escaped with a 1-0 victory. City had a bevy of chances, but only five of their 27 shots hit the target and all five were turned away by Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
If the Black Cats are to avoid their third loss in four matches, they'll need another strong performance from their keeper.
Where: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England
When: Saturday, March 31 10 a.m. EST
Watch: The match will be live streaming on foxsoccer2go.com
Player to Watch for Manchester City: Yaya Touré, Midfielder
Okay, so any time you drain a 35-yard equalizer, you automatically become the Player to Watch for at least a week. That's just how it goes.
Of course, it's not like that filthy goal was the only noteworthy thing Touré has done this season. He's ripped in three other goals, dished out four assists and played his usual brand of stifling defense.
Touré is one of the best overall midfielders in the world, so keeping an eye on him is always a must. Don't be surprised if his play sways the outcome of Saturday's match.
Player to Watch for Sunderland: Stephane Sessegnon, Midfielder
After elbowing Cheik Tiote of Newcastle United, Sessegnon was banned for three games and Sunderland's offense suffered massively because of it. Seeing as how he leads the team in goals (seven) and assists (seven), this wasn't exactly surprising.
In Sessegnon's return last Saturday against QPR, Sunderland had as many shots on target (four) as they did in their three previous matches combined. And although they couldn't find the net Tuesday against Everton, Sessegnon's creativity was on full display.
Look for him to leave his mark all over this game offensively.
Key Matchup: Man City's attack vs Simon Mignolet
Mignolet was dominant in Sunderland's victory over Man City in January. He saved all five of City's shots on goal, holding the offensive juggernaut scoreless for just the second time in the season at that point.
He'll need to have a similar performance this week, as City's trio of Carlos Tevez, Samir Nasri and David Silva will be aggressive throughout. But since Mignolet has only conceded 23 goals in 22 starts this season, I like his chances.
What They're Saying:
Aguero believes he can cap an incredible year with a Premier League winner’s medal, too – and then wants to add many more in years to come.
“Why wait until next season if we can win it now?” said [Aguero]. “I can promise you that we’ll be fighting until the very end. We all want to make it and though it won’t be easy, we believe we can win the Premier League this season. Winning titles is about never giving up and we will never give up. I want to win it this season and then many more with City after that.”
Graeme Anderson of Sunderland Echo talks about manager Martin O'Neill's disappointment after Sunderland's FA Cup loss to Everton.
“The reality is that this is the tough end of the season and, I’m sorry, but we are at home and should have gone on to force the issue. I believe we should have done better," said O'Neill.
Now Sunderland will look to go on from here and finish the season well.
“We’ve got some tough fixtures ahead, obviously starting with Man City coming up this weekend,” said the Black Cats boss.
“Our cup run was great and we should have been able to continue it, particularly with us being at the Stadium of Light. It’s not been often we can criticize the players, but this game was definitely one where we could and that’s disappointing. I’m very disappointed myself."
Sunderland 1 - Manchester City 1
Although Carlos Tevez is returning to the pitch, I'm skeptical about City's ability to finish against Mignolet. I'm expecting the keeper to have an excellent match, and while another clean sheet isn't likely, Sunderland will be happy if they can hold City to one goal.
Offensively, look for Sessegnon's creativity to open up scoring chances for himself and the rest of the Sunderland attackers. If they can find the net just once, they'll likely avoid their second loss of the week.