David Moyes is braced for a crunch battle at Burnley.
The Sunderland boss takes his 18th-placed side to Turf Moor tomorrow in one of the key games of the weekend in the Premier League.
You might not necessarily pick out loads of individuals but you would pick out a good teamDAVID MOYES
A win for the Clarets could move them nine points clear of the relegation zone at the mid-point of the programme.
However, a Sunderland victory would move them out of the bottom three and within three points of Sean Dyche’s team.
Burnley will start as favourites, given their impressive sequence of results on their own ground.
They have won all but one of their 20 points at Turf Moor and Moyes says the team ethic fostered by Burnley boss Sean Dyche has been the key to the side performing so strongly on their return to the top flight.
“I have played and managed there many times,” said the Scot, who began his managerial career down the road at Preston North End.
“Burnley have had a great tradition over the years.
“Turf Moor has never been an easy place to go and get a result, but they have had a bit of consistency in terms of not having to change their team much.
“Burnley have come back up with near enough the same group of players – that regularity has given them a good team.
“You might not necessarily pick out loads of individuals, but you would pick out a good team.
“That makes them dangerous and more the reason why they have picked up lots of good home results this season.”
It promises to be a tough, physical battle for the Black Cats. The Clarets play a more direct game than other top-flight clubs and like to get possession up to striker Sam Vokes, who is their top scorer with four goals.
Moyes is well aware of the strength of the Welsh forward but is quick to acknowledge that the goals are shared around the team – Burnley have 11 different scorers, compared to four at Sunderland.
“They have scored a good level of goals from set-pieces and some of their centre-halves can come up with a goal too,” he said.
Moyes must make at least one change, with Vito Mannone coming in for man of the season Jordan Pickford, who faces up to two months out with a knee injury after colliding with team-mate Pap Djilobodji in the Boxing Day defeat at Manchester United.
The Cats boss is also likely to start loanee Adnan Januzaj who missed the trip to Old Trafford because he could not face his parent club, with Seb Larsson taking his place.
Moyes could retain Larsson and admits to be looking at the make-up of his midfield unit.
“Adnan is someone who, on his day, can make something happen, create or score goal, and, a bit like Fabio (Borini), score a goal out of nothing,” said the manager.
“We have attacking options, it’s more a concern of how we are in the middle of the park and how we are defensively.”