Scout report: Why Sunderland's trip to Blackpool comes at a good time for the Black Cats

It's a quick turnaround for Sunderland who will make the trip to Blackpool on New Year's Day - but what should the Black Cats expect?

Monday, 31st December 2018, 10:28 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 2:33 am
Blackpool manager Terry McPhillips was given a 12-month rolling contract in September.

Jack Ross' side are yet to face the Tangerines this campaign, after the fixture in October was postponed due to international call-ups.

The Seasiders sit eighth in League One ahead of the meeting at Bloomfield Road - but what system will they play? What form are they in? And who do Sunderland need to keep an eye on?

We take a closer look at the Black Cats' next opponents in our detailed scout report:

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What system will Blackpool play?

The Tangerines possess one of the best defences in the division and have conceded just 24 goals in the league this season - only Portsmouth, Sunderland and Barnsley have conceded less.

Blackpool have played with a back three under Terry McPhillips, who was appointed as permanent manager in September, but have reverted to a four-man backline following a series of injuries.

Under McPhillips, Blackpool have often played with three men in midfield to provide energy and protection for their defenders.

At 6 ft 4, top scorer Armand Gnanduillet, 26, provides a focal point up front but hasn't scored for four league games.

Who are Blackpool's key players?

Behind Gnanduillet, who has scored eight goals in all competitions this season, Nathan Delfouneso is Blackpool's second highest scorer with five this term.

Delfouneso has often been deployed out wide this campaign, causing problems with his pace and power.

Stand in captain and former Liverpool midfielder Jay Spearing is the heartbeat of the side and provides a threat from set-plays.

Defenders Ben Heneghan and Curtis Tilt have also been key, but the latter has missed the last two games through injury.

Do Blackpool have any injury worries?

Yes, lots.

Tilt, Ollie Turton and Donervon Daniels were all absent during Blackpool's goalless draw with AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

While defender Daniels missed the game for personal reasons, it is hoped Tilt and Turton could return to face Sunderland.

Captain Jimmy Ryan remains out following a surgery on his knee, while forwards Joe Dodoo and Mark Cullen are also on the injury list.

McPhillips also confirmed Spearing is one of the players who is nursing a slight knock, after the midfielder was substituted with a tight calf against Wimbledon.Who is Blackpool's manager and what can we expect from them?

McPhillips took charge of Blackpool on an interim basis after Gary Bowyer left the club following the opening day of the season.

Blackpool then went on an eight-match unbeaten run before McPhillips was given a 12-month rolling contract in September.

The 49-year-old was also Bowyer's assistant at Blackburn but this is his first managerial role.

What form have Blackpool been in?

A run of four league games without a win has stalled Blackpool's promotion bid.

The Tangerines were just a point off the play-offs following their victory over Charlton on December 8 but are now eight points off the top six.

Over a busy Christmas schedule, Blackpool's small squad appears to have caught up with them, following consecutive defeats against Oxford, Barnsley and Rochdale.

They at least stopped the rot against Wimbledon last time out.

Last six league games: LWLLLD