Manchester City will be determined to bounce back from their surprise draw with Burnley as they face a Sunderland side that only won three matches in the first half of the season.
Two goals up at half-time and with leaders Chelsea having drawn away to Southampton, it looked for all the world as though the reigning champions would be closing the gap at the top of the Premier League to just a point, only to capitulate and allow the strugglers to claim a share of the spoils.
It was an opportunity wasted, but there should not be any reason for panic as that result came after a run of nine successive wins in all competitions, and City showed once again that they can be very effective when playing without a recognised striker; with David Silva again outstanding.
Sunderland’s results over the festive period thus far have effectively summed up their season, as they have failed to build on the win over bitter rivals Newcastle United, which looked to be a turning point and a result which would give them huge momentum.
But losing to struggling Hull City was not the result they hoped for and expected, and rather than take advantage of Aston Villa going down to 10 men on Sunday, they laboured to a goalless draw, so the jury is still very much out on the Black Cats.
Stevan Jovetic is back available for Man City after injured, but fellow strikers Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko are still sidelined. Fernando is suspended after picking up five bookings.
The visitors are unable to call upon Liam Bridcutt, who was injured at Villa. Anthony Revelliere and Patrick van Aanholt are also missing.
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