Defending champions Manchester City welcome Sunderland to the Etihad in a re-match of the only game that saw City drop points in front of their home fans last season, as two late goals saw the hosts claim a priceless point that eventually had crucial bearings on their victorious title chase.
However, Roberto Mancini’s men have begun rather less impressively this season. Currently sitting in fourth position, four points behind leaders Chelsea, the Citizen’s league form has been patchy at best while in the Champions League, they have only collected one point from their opening two games, the last of which saw them completely outplayed by Borussia Dortmund at the Etihad in midweek, only escaping with a point thanks to the brilliance of Joe Hart and a controversial late Mario Balotelli penalty.
Mancini is likely to be missing Spanish midfielder Javi Garcia after he limped off against Dortmund with a hamstring injury. He could be replaced by Jack Rodwell, who was at fault for Dortmund’s goal in the week. Elsehwere, Maicon may return while Mancini must decide whether to persist with Edin Dzeko or choose from Balotelli or Carlos Tevez to partner Sergio Aguero.
Sunderland remain unbeaten in the league so far this season and finally collected their first victory against Wigan at the Stadium of Light last weekend. Martin O’Neill’s men will not be shy of confidence going to the Etihad considering their performance there last season and particularly due to the red-hot form of Steven Fletcher, who has scored every single one of the Black Cat’s five goals in their last four league fixtures since his arrival from Wolves.
O’Neill is likely to pick an unchanged side from the one that defeated Wigan with Lee Cattermole still suspended so Adam Johnson could start against the club he departed for the North East in the summer.