Feb 8, 2014, 9:40 AM EDT
It’s a relegation six-pointer at the Stadium of Light today, with Sunderland hosting Hull City (watch live online on NBC Sports Live Extra at 10 a.m. ET).
While Hull City got off to a solid start at the beginning of the season, they’ve been slipping in recent weeks, and Steve Bruce would like nothing more than to right the ship against former side Sunderland. The reverse fixture saw the Tigers edge a 1-0 victory thanks to an own-goal by Carlos Cuellar, but Bruce might prefer something more emphatic this time around – along the lines of, say, the 6-0 win over Fulham.
But that might not be so easy. Sunderland, so recently the league’s bottom side, are starting to come together under Gus Poyet. Their 3-0 derby victory over Newcastle last weekend, ensuring they beat their rivals twice this season, will have lifted the Black Cats. While both sides are sitting on 24 points, it seems the hosts are the ones in the ascendancy.
Poyet seems to believe his side are on the rise as well, as the Sunderland manager is sticking with the same lineup that so thoroughly defeated Newcastle last week. Jozy Altidore leads the line once more, while Fabio Borini, who was excellent against the Magpies, and Adam Johnson, still eyeing a spot in England’s World Cup squad, will be on the wings.
Bruce, too, sees little reason to change after his side managed to hold Tottenham to a draw last time out. Jake Livermore, unable to play against his parent club last weekend, steps in for Robbie Brady, but the rest of the starting XI remains unchanged.
Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley, Alonso, Bridcutt, O’Shea, Brown, Ki, Colback, Johnson, Borini, Altidore
Subs: Larsson, Gardner, Wickham, Giaccherini, Vergini, Ustari, Cattermole
Hull City: Harper, Rosenior, Figueroa, Davies, Meyler, Huddlestone, Livermore, McShane, Jelavic, Long, Elmohamady
Subs: Jakupovic, Bruce, Koren, Brady, Boyd, Sagbo, Aluko
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