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Preview: Sunderland v Man City
11 Mar 2010 - 11:47:08
Sunderland welcome Manchester City to their Stadium of Light home on Sunday and there will be a palpable sense of relief around the ground after their midweek win against Bolton Wanderers.
Steve Bruce's struggling side grabbed a much-needed 4-0 win against the Trotters, with Darren Bent notching a hat-trick, and the timing couldn't have been better.
The Black Cats had laboured to 14 games without a win before Tuesday night's triumph which lifted their mood ahead of the tricky test against Roberto Mancini's outfit.
Sunderland now sit six points ahead of Hull City in the third and final relegation place with just ten games of the Premier League season remaining.
City have been out-of-sorts of late, but their last outing brought about a fantastic 4-2 win at Chelsea.
Craig Bellamy and Carlos Tevez both bagged braces in a heated contest at Stamford Bridge and will be aiming to aid their team's top-four challenge with another win.
Prior to that stunning triumph, they had collected just four points out of a possible 12 on offer. They currently occupy fifth place in the table, level on points with Tottenham Hotspur, who sit above them on goal difference.
With Liverpool's poor form continuing, the Citizens could take full advantage with a success in the north-east to move further away from the chasing Merseysiders.
However, they must do without injured Martin Petrov (knee ligaments) and long-term absentee Michael Johnson (knee).
The hosts could welcome back duo Andy Reid (hamstring) and Jordan Henderson (ankle), who are nearing returns to full fitness.
City cruised to a 3-0 win in last season's clash between the two teams. Stephen Ireland opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time before Shaun Wright-Phillips, starting for City for the first time since May 2005, made a dream return by doubling their advantage.
Then, just before the hour, it was Wright-Phillips who bagged a second goal to complete the rout.