Sunderland’s dismal home form is well documented, the Black Cats failing to win at the Stadium of Light since December 17 last year.
Here are three issues under-fire Simon Grayson must resolve to end home hoodoo.
Solving Sunderland’s midfield problems hinge on Jonny Williams’ fitness:
By Grayson’s own admission, Lee Cattermole and Didier Ndong have not dominated opponents.
Ndong was back to something resembling his best at Brentford but huge question marks remain over Cattermole. The pairing is hampering the team.
It is a big call but Grayson will surely be seriously considering dropping Cattermole should Jonny Williams be fit.
Williams adds a different dimension, coming deep to get the ball, offers quality in possession and is able to carry the ball.
If Williams doesn’t make it, there are currently no better options than Cattermole. Neither Darron Gibson or Jack Rodwell would be an upgrade.
Paddy McNair offers the brightest hope in terms of resolving that problem area but he is still edging his way back to fitness.
Sunderland have the joint worst defence:
25 goals the Black Cats have shipped in 13 league games, Sunderland unable to keep a clean sheet all campaign.
The back four of Jones, Kone, O’Shea and Oviedo did little wrong at Brentford yet Sunderland still managed to ship three goals.
There is a strong case for keeping faith with that quartet provided Marc Wilson and Ty Browning aren’t fit.
But Adam Matthews instead of Jones would offer more attacking threat from full back down the right and balance the side with Oviedo keen to get down the left.
Change the emphasis:
Sunderland have been too conservative at home. Ndong and Cattermole two defensive midfielders that have offered little defensive cover.
If Grayson is to celebrate his first home win, the emphasis has to change. Play Callum McManaman instead of George Honeyman from the off and get at Bristol City.
Lewis Grabban and Duncan Watmore offer a real threat, with Watmore’s pace causing problems for most teams. With the club second bottom, Sunderland need to start playing to their attacking strengths. And if Sunderland were to take the lead, don’t sit back.