MARTIN O’Neill says he expects an open game against Queens Park Rangers tonight – despite the smart money being on the two teams playing out a goalless draw!
The Black Cats’ trip to Loftus Road pits together sides which have both struggled for goals this season.
QPR have scored fewer goals at home this season than any other side in the Premier League – just six in eight games – while Sunderland have struggled to find the back of the net home and away this campaign.
The Wearsiders are moving along at barely a goal a game in the league and have notched just six goals in eight away trips – scoring only once in their last three trips away from the Stadium of Light.
But the Sunderland manager says he wouldn’t be surprised if this evening’s game bucked the trend.
“You can never predict a scoreline, but, in all honesty, I’ve got to say that I expect an open game,” said O’Neill.
“There’s likely to be no shortage of chances, it’s just a question of which side takes them.”
O’Neill watched QPR’s clash with Manchester United ahead of Sunderland’s game at Spurs on Sunday and was impressed with what he saw from the newly-promoted Londoners.
He said: “Man United won 2-0, but Sir Alex Ferguson rightly pointed afterwards that, while it was 1-0, it was always on a knife-edge as to who would score the next goal.
“Now if someone like Sir Alex and a club like Man United can be posed problems by QPR, I’m fully aware that they can cause problems for us.
“I watched that game and it was a very open game.
“Queens Park Rangers set out to play football and create chances and I expect a similar approach (tonight).
“They’re at home and they’ll want to win the game, so I think they’ll be positive.
“But we need points as well, so what you might see is a very open and entertaining game.
“Certainly, there’ll be a good atmosphere there.
“I played at Loftus Road as a player and I’ve managed there a few times as well and with the way the stadium is designed, with the crowd very close to the pitch, it’s always atmospheric – it’ll be even more so on a night time.
“But we have to go into the game being confident and looking forward to it. “It’s another chance to put points on the board and climb the table and that’s what it is all about for this club at the moment.”
QPR manager Neil Warnock must decide whether to replace keeper Radek Cerny with fit-again Paddy Kenny.
Cerny made some fine saves against Manchester United, while Kenny watched from the bench.
Ex-Sunderland defender Anton Ferdinand is a doubt because of a hamstring injury, as is Danny Gabbidon who has a gashed leg.
Jay Bothroyd is struggling with a knee problem while Kieron Dyer is out for the season after undergoing foot surgery.
QPR (from): Kenny, Cerny, Putnins, Ferdinand, Hall, Gabbidon, Connolly, Taarabt, Traore, Bothroyd, Faurlin, Barton, Orr, Buzsaky, Young, Smith, Helguson, Wright-Phillips, Puncheon, Campbell.
SUNDERLAND (from): Westwood, Carson, O’Shea, Bardsley, Brown, Bramble, Turner, Laing, Cattermole, Richardson, Gardner, Vaughan, Larsson, Colback, Elmohamady, McClean, Meyler, Sessegnon, Bendtner, Wickham, Ji, Noble.