GUS Poyet says Sunderland’s defence need to be ready for a stark contrast in the second instalment of facing the Premier League’s deadliest marksmen.
Sunderland managed to prevent the top flight’s second top scorer Diego Costa from finding the net in Saturday’s stalemate against Chelsea, with the £32million summer signing perhaps fortunate to remain on the pitch after a couple of flashpoints.
But the Black Cats back-line will encounter another stern test against Manchester City’s 12-goal Sergio Aguero at the Stadium of Light tomorrow night.
Aguero failed to find the net in three meetings against Sunderland last season, yet the Argentine international has got back to his best this year and leads the Premier League’s goal-scoring charts.
Sunderland boss Poyet puts Aguero on a par with Costa, but knows he is a different kind of striker for the Black Cats to keep under wraps.
Poyet said: “I think it would be difficult to pick between the two.
“We are more used to Aguero in this country, whereas Costa has made such a big impact this season because he’s been exceptional.
“He’s got everything – he’s a bit nasty, he doesn’t stop, he’s got power.
“But we managed to cope with him and now there’s another great challenge for the defence and goalkeeper.
“Both strikers are a bit different. Costa manages to find a way whatever, whereas City need to provide for Aguero so it suits his game.
“Sometimes Costa doesn’t need anything, just a long ball, and he will create something.
“For me, the most influential players in the league this season are Aguero, Costa, (Cesc) Fabregas and (Alexis) Sanchez at Arsenal.
“You can go through the other teams like Southampton, but they are more of a team.
“Those players are on a different level to the rest.”
After the exertions of Saturday’s draw, Poyet may be forced into a change at the back tomorrow, with on-loan Liverpool centre-half Sebastian Coates on standby to make his league bow for Sunderland.
Coates is ineligible for this weekend’s trip to Anfield and with full-back Billy Jones not due back in full training until next week, the Uruguayan international is the only defensive option available to Poyet tomorrow.