Off the back of two 1-0 victories against Shrewsbury and Ipswich, Sunderland welcome 12th place Gillingham to the Stadium of Light for a 1pm kick-off, but how will the game play out?
The Essex side are unbeaten in three and face us off the back of a 4-1 win against Crewe on Tuesday, but have been very inconsistent this season…
I caught up with KentLive journalist and Gillingham fan Henry Collier to give us his views. “We still have a very young squad and that is an issue in terms of inconsistencies. Some weeks we look really good and some weeks we look awful. So, it’s really difficult to predict a score line against Sunderland, but I’d say that our ones to watch are Jordan Graham and Kyle Dempsey.”
The Gills tend to play a target man-based system, with Vadine Oliver as a lone striker. Henry added: “He may not be the goal scorer we need but if you’re looking for a target man at this level look no further than him.”
As for Sunderland, the main concern has to be converting possession into chances. We can keep clean sheets and look sound defensively, and we now know Charlie Wyke can score goals, having converted seven goals from the eleven shots on target he’s had under Lee Johnson. However, it took us the entire first half against Ipswich to register a shot on target, despite having 65% of possession.
The inclusion of Luke O’Nien into midfield could help solve this problem. Hopefully, due to the inconsistency of Gillingham’s squad they may be prone to leaving gaps for us to exploit, especially if we operate with 4-2-2-2, which allows for more link-up play in the final third.
My prediction for the game will another 1-0 win for the Lads. Provided we can keep Jackson quiet, which admittedly relies on McFadzean defending well, Gillingham shouldn’t be able to challenge a defence growing in confidence and, with the form Wyke has been in, it seems he currently only needs one decent chance to get on the scoresheet. With a win being enough to take us as high as fourth, Saturday could be a turning point in the season.