Fans in Focus – Sunderland vs Burnley

Ahead of Saturday’s crunch clash at the Stadium of Light, I caught up with a fan from both teams to get their thoughts ahead of what looks set to be a huge game.

Burnley travel to Sunderland still seeking that elusive first away win, but a lot of Burnley fans are confident that it may well come on Saturday.

As for Sunderland, Saturday’s game is a must win if they are to claw themselves out of the drop zone and towards the safety of 40 points.

Here’s what fans from both teams had to say about the upcoming clash…

Burnley Fan – Peter Davis (@peter_css-sales)

Does Sean Dyche need to try something else on the road? Or would you stick with the 4-4-2?

The 442 seems to work the best for us/Dyche – personally I do like us sticking with the 442. I recall the 451 was tried out for a game or two which packed the midfield but left our striker on the day looking isolated and lacking quality service. Once ‘Dyche fit’ I think Brady will be quality for us and offer us the kind of spark we’ve lacked for a little while.

If it is 4-4-2, who partners the seemingly nailed on starter Andre Gray? Vokes, Barnes or Agyei?

For me, it’s Vokes. It’s a tough one between him and Barnes as they offer different styles of play, but for me I think Vokes just gets the nod. I do like Barnes, his wok rate, dedication and commitment to the cause can’t be knocked at all and over the years has chipped in with some quality and important goals for us. Agyei looks like he’s got a big future ahead of him though – has strength, pace and looks good on the ball. Perhaps slightly disappointing he didn’t get a little more time on the pitch last Sunday.

What is the key to Burnley picking up that elusive away win on Saturday?

Sounds an obvious comment but concentration. If we get ourselves into the lead as we did last weekend, we need to be seeing it out until half time/full time – no sloppy conceding late on in either half. Without quoting Dyche too much, we have been unlucky on the road and don’t look a million miles away from that first away win. If Saturday brings us three points, it’s a big, big step towards survival. A draw isn’t the end of the world as it’s another point up and another game down. Defeat may just make a few nerves twitch and drag us right back in again. Our ‘comfort’ at the minute is that we have points on the board early and that there at least 5 of the teams below us looking more likely to be contesting against the drop.

Is there anything Burnley can take into Saturday from December’s 4-1 victory?

I think Andre Gray has to be rubbing his hands together at the prospect of facing the Sunderland defence again – certainly if he’s facing the ageing legs of John O’Shea. His hat-trick at the Turf was a perfect reminder of just what he can do when he’s on his ‘A’ game – he simply terrorised their defence and they just couldn’t handle him. The main player for them is an obvious one in Jermain Defoe. Without him, Sunderland wouldn’t have been playing Premier League football this season. Keane and Mee have a tough game to keep him quiet. However, if the midfield put in a shift to keep the supply line to Defoe at bay, I think our centre backs can stifle Defoe and limit him to half-chances. A notable mention for their ‘keeper Jordan Pickford. Has been a shining light in an otherwise extremely disappointing season for Sunderland. I would much rather have been facing Mannone or Pantilimon than Pickford, but it is what it is. I think Pickford can go on to challenge for the England number 1 spot for many years to come.

Finally, what is your prediction? Will we pick up that first away win?

A very, very tough game which could turn out to be scrappy but I’ll go for a 1-0 Burnley win. To dig out the clichés, I think the game will be won and lost in midfield. On paper Sunderland have some quality players but they simply haven’t performed this season and maybe Moyes’ comments when he took the job at the start of the season of ‘we’re in a relegation fight’ (although ultimately true) isn’t perhaps the mindset you want from your manager. In terms of recent performances and standards of work rate that Dyche demands of our squad, our midfield may just edge it on Saturday and be key to our first three points on the road. Here’s hoping!

Sunderland Fan – Josh Bunting (@distillerymad)

Saturday is seemingly a huge game for Sunderland, how much will the outcome of the game define your season?

Massive game for us the biggest of the season to date no doubt about that . If we lose, I hate to say it but I think that is the final straw and we are relegated . So this is a must win .

What should Burnley fans expect of Sunderland on Saturday?

Burnley fans should expect Sunderland to come out fighting, hopefully. Burnley’s away form is not good as we know, so hopefully this will give us that little extra piece of confidence going forward into this game . Expect a good atmosphere in the Stadium as always, as the Red and White Army get behind their team .

After the 4-1 defeat at Turf Moor in December, what is the key to making sure this doesn’t happen to you again?
Good question it could very easily happen again knowing Sunderland. Burnley were superb at Anfield last week the pace was frightening at times. Keeping Andre Gray out of the game would be nice for a start.
How do you see Saturday’s game playing out?
At home I would like to say a win for Sunderland but I have been to watch Burnley quite a bit this season whilst studying in Manchester and safe to say they really have impressed me, so I know this match is going to be so tough. I will go 1-0 Sunderland to make me smile for now.
Finally, what is your score prediction?
As I said in question 4, 1-0 Sunderland, tight, but I’ll take it.
Thanks to Peter and Josh for taking time out to answer some questions. Be sure to check back to the website after the Sunderland game for an in-depth report on what is hopefully a Burnley win!



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