Two clubs trending in opposite directions meet today at the Stadium of Light, even if both Sunderland and Stoke City find themselves in the Premier League’s bottom five. But whereas the Black Cats have lost only one of their last seven league matches, the Potters haven’t won in the Premier League since Dec. 21.
The two relegation-entangled teams kickoff at 2:45 pm PT, with the game available to stream on NBC Sports Live Extra.
Under Gus Poyet, Sunderland show every sign of surviving their poor start. In addition to pulling the Black Cats within one point of safety, the former Brighton boss has Sunderland in the League Cup final, the team having upset Manchester United in the competition’s semifinals. In league, Sunderland can vault two points clear of Fulham with a win, moving them out of the drop for the first time this season.
For Stoke, relegation worries are becoming more pressing by the round, with the Potters having lost four of their last five Premier League games. Under Mark Hughes, Stoke has tried to move beyond the stalwart but limited approach of their former boss, Tony Pulis. Having slipped to 16th, Stoke’s quickly approaching a point where they’ll have to pass judgment on Hughes’s approach.
In that sense, the Potters may be carrying more pressure into this game, even if Sunderland should be considered favorites. If the Black Cats fall, it will be seen as a setback to a rise that’s gained surprising momentum. If Stoke loses, however, Potters fans will left wondering how far their team will fall.
Sunderland: Vito Mannone, Phil Bardsley, Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Marcos Alonso, Ki Sung-Yueng, Jack Colback, Sebastian Larsson, Adam Johnson, Fabio Borini, Jozy Altidore
Subs: Craig Gardner, Steven Fletcher, Connor Wickham, Ondrej Celustka, Emanuele Giaccherini, Santiago Vergini, Oscar Ustari
Stoke City: Asmir Begovic, Geoff Cameron, Ryan Shawcross, Marc Wilson, Erik Pieters, Peter Odemwingie, Steve N’Zonzi, Charlie Adam, Oussama Assaidi, Peter Crouch
Subs: Thomas Sorensen, Marc Muniesa, Wilson Palacios, Marc Arnautovic, Jon Walters, John Guidetti, Stephen Ireland