Moyes’ big selection call and how Kirchhoff can help: Key areas for Sunderland v Burnley

Will Denayer be recalled for Sunderland?
Will Denayer be recalled for Sunderland?
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It is one of the biggest games of Sunderland’s season yet, as they look to avoid going into another fortnight break even further adrift at the bottom.

Burnley are yet to win away from home this season but were unlucky to be beaten at Anfield last weekend.

So where will the game be won and lost?

Here are three key areas ...

1 Get the defence selection right

The biggest call David Moyes will make this weekend is who he picks at centre-half.

On the New Year’s Eve horror show Papy Djilobodji and John O’Shea were torn apart, Burnley’s front two wreaking havoc.

They’ll go two up top again and it would be a big surprise to see Djilobodji picked. Kone and O’Shea have been a regular pairing recently and the Ivory Coast man certainly looks a better bet.

Moyes may, however, be tempted to recall Jason Denayer and play three at the back. He was Sunderland’s best performer in the home leg of the FA Cup third round clash and his speed could help the Black Cats get to grips with Andre Gray better and offer some much needed cover.

2 Can Kirchhoff make a defensive difference?

The German’s return is much needed, mostly because of the improvement he will bring to midfield in terms of keeping and using possession.

Against Burnley, however, he may also be a much needed aerial force, the Clarets regularly going direct.

During that Turf Moor defeat Sunderland were undone too easily by direct balls through the middle, and Kirchhoff’s stature may help better protect the defence.

3 Can Januzaj make the difference?

A brilliant run from the Belgian set up Sunderland’s consolation at Turf Moor, and his combination with Jermain Defoe is invariably involved when Moyes’ side do score.

That superb win at Crystal Palace, when Januzaj twice assisted Defoe, is the only game in the Black Cats’ last six when they have got on the scoresheet.

He remains Sunderland’s best creative hope, and now is the time to turn promising moments in games into a defining 90 minute performance.

Burnley’s 4-4-2 will leave gaps in front of their defence and Januzaj is the only player truly capable of exploiting them.