Sunderland return to action in the Championship tonight as they host promotion-chasing side Sheffield United at the Stadium of Light.
Tony Mowbray’s men will be going in search of their second win in succession after beating Norwich City away from home at Carrow Road last Sunday.
Abdoullah Ba’s fantastic strike from the edge of the box in the first half secured all three points in a hard-fought fixture in Norfolk and the Black Cats must use their positive momentum to swing a result their way against the Blades this evening.
Despite the win last weekend, Mowbray may look to make a change or two to his side to keep things fresh and ensure that there is fierce competition for places.
Who could start for Sunderland against Sheffield United?
One player who must be unleashed from the start against the Blades tonight is rarely-seen Costa Rica international Jewison Bennette after Patrick Roberts struggled badly against his former club last Sunday.
The English forward lined up on the right flank and was dominated by Norwich’s left-back Dimi Giannoulis at both ends of the pitch, which could lead to him being ditched for this match.
The graphic above, with stats supplied by Sofascore, show that the winger was a liability out wide for the Black Cats as he offered very little in possession and was a lightweight from a defensive perspective.
On the other hand, Giannoulis created three chances and won a whopping 16 duels, whilst making six tackles and completing eight dribbles from left-back for the Canaries. That shows the defender found it far too easy to nullify Roberts and then burst past him with the ball.
Therefore, it could be the right time to unleash Bennette from the start to see if the youngster could deliver a better display than Roberts managed last time out.
The 18-year-old has produced two goals and one assist in 17 first-team outings this season, despite only starting one match, and chipped in with one goal and two assists in five outings for the U21 side.
Bennette, who journalist Josh Bunting dubbed a “star boy” and claimed has “sheer pace“, has also scored twice in ten caps for Costa Rica at international level, with these statistics showing that the young gem has the potential to make a significant impact at the top end of the pitch.
Therefore, Mowbray must move Roberts – who put in a dismal display last Sunday – aside in order to start Bennette, who could punish Sheffield United with his pace on the counter.