O’Neill has improved the resiliency in the Sunderland side and they have won two of the first three games under the Northern Irishman. The Black Cats left it late to get all three points against QPR on Wednesday night. Sunderland were 2-0 ahead, but lost the lead to 2-2 before Wes Brown’s winner. O’Neill will be looking to cut out those sort of defensive lapses and believes his side have a good chance of beating the visiting Everton. Sunderland will be without Connor Wickham, despite an improvement in his knee condition. The Black Cats are 15th in the table and a win against Everton could see them move above Everton into 11th, should results go their way.
David Moyes’ side currently sit 11th and have improved from their traditional slow start to the season. They snatched a point against Norwich at Goodison Park last Saturday and won 1-0 against Swansea thanks to a Leon Osman goal in midweek. The Toffees are unbeaten in their last 13 Premier League fixtures against Sunderland and will look to extend that record again today. Moyes is without Seamus Coleman after a recurrence of a thigh problem, but midfielder Jack Rodwell and young forward Conor McAleny are battling to shake off hamstring strains. Everton will look to their strikers to provide more goals with Louis Saha expected to lead the line once again.
Everton’s form in these games could see them as the favourites, but the revitalisation of Sunderland under O’Neill puts them in pole position for a win. The Black Cats have been good value for excitement in their last few fixtures and with midfielder Stephane Sessegnon, O’Neill has a talent that could destroy Everton. Sunderland should win this one marginally at the Stadium of Light, but will be tested all the way by a resilient Everton side.