Sunderland’s Mannone ready to take on Manchester City’s strike power

Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone.

Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone.

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IN-FORM Vito Mannone is ready for the sternest test of his credentials yet at free-scoring Manchester City tonight.

The Premier League’s top scorers have averaged more than three goals per game at the Etihad this season after netting 42 times in just 12 top flight outings.

Sunderland goalkeeper Mannone expects a busy night, as the Black Cats look to become only the second team this season to take anything from City on their own patch.

But after a meteoric rise since succeeding Keiren Westwood as Sunderland number one in November, Mannone wants to test himself against the best, in the dress rehearsal for next month’s Capital One Cup final.

Mannone told the Echo: “I’m ready for it.

“It’s challenging, but these are the types of games you want to play when you are a Premier League goalkeeper.

“I know they’ve scored so many goals at home, but you want to do well against the big clubs and try to help the team get points.

“I will aim to do my best.”

City have failed to find the net in each of their last two league outings after losing their 100 per cent home record against Chelsea last week and then being held to a stalemate at Norwich on Saturday.

And despite Sunderland suffering the major blow of defeat to fellow strugglers Hull City, Mannone says the Black Cats must believe they can extend Man City’s winless run to three games.

Mannone, part of the Sunderland side who beat City at the Stadium of Light in November, added: “It’s another massive game tonight. For me, it’s as big as Hull City.

“Alright, they’ve got quality and we need to be at our best, but we’ve beaten them, we know them.

“They’re not in the best moment now, so let’s go there and try to produce a result.

“We can’t be too down (after Hull) because we’ve been really, really good in the past few weeks.

“We killed ourselves after five minutes against Hull with the (Wes Brown) sending-off. That’s the reality.

“I understand we lost, but we’ve got another game tonight. It’s non-stop.”