O'Neill will be looking to FA Cup "veterans" such as John O'Shea to help guide his side into the next round (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Martin O'Neill will look to keep momentum going this Sunday as his battle worn Sunderland side make the trip to Championship side Peterborough United in the third round of the FA Cup, a tie ITV clearly believe has the potential for an upset as they put up the cash for the rights to televise the tie. Martin has some tricky decisions to make with regards to his team selection. There will be a number of players he would love to rest you would imagine given the rigours of the festive period however you would imagine he would want avoid breaking up a winning side too much.
Join us now as we have a run through the team news for both sides, some predicted lineups, classic encounters, some betting suggestions if you fancy a flutter and a song to get us in the mood. Then again who doesn't like the FA Cup third round weekend?
Sunderland Team News:
SAFC have enjoyed remarkable success over the Christmas period despite having to contend with numerous injuries, especially across the defence. With that said O'Neill will have been happy to see both Craig Gordon and Michael Turner return to action in a midweek reserve victory over Arsenal. There are certainly a few players that could benefit from a break this weekend if O'Neill sees fit. The superb Jack Colback seemed to pull up with a problem in the closing stages of the Wigan game and O'Neill was quick to check on his man at the full time whistle.
The key to the back four's success recently has undoubtedly been John O'Shea. His move to the centre of the defence has been a big success in my eyes and allows him to marshal the defence more effectively. This in turn has inspired confidence in those around him, the stand in full backs and especially the emergence of Matt Kilgallon. I wouldn't be surprised to see Kieran Richardson make a return to left back to allow Colback a much needed rest.
James McClean is flying at the moment and I see no reason for him to be removed from the starting eleven at the moment. The same can be said for the outstanding Lee Cattermole of late and of course David Vaughan. I don't think however that O'Neill will be pushed to rush Sebastian Larsson back into the fold and may choose in favour to offer a starting spot to Ahmed Elmohamady.
As for the forward line Stephane Sessegnon continues to impress and help keep the side ticking, so I would assume he will keep his place. His partner for the afternoon may change. Ji may be rewarded for his recent impressive showings from the bench or maybe, just maybe, O'Neill will give reserve hotshot Ryan Noble an opportunity. Although I imagine his chance will come from the bench.
Peterborough Team News:
The Posh have never managed to beat Premier League opposition in the FA Cup since the top flight competition was introduced, having failed on six occasions since 1992 and were knocked out by Fulham at this stage last year - losing 6-2 at Craven Cottage.
However under Darren Ferguson the side have enjoyed, just like Sunderland, a great spell over Christmas having picked up two wins and three draws in that period and have good reason to be confident of breaking their Cup hoodoo infront of a lively London Road crowd and the viewing public at home.
Peterborough certainly haven't been shy in front of goal this year either having scored in each of their last seventeen games and have not been involved in a 0-0 draw yet this season. Midfielder Grant McCann sits at the top of The Posh's goalscoring charts having found the back of the net eight times this term.
Ferguson is expected to keep faith in his back four that has served him well, especially the highly rated young centre half Ryan Bennett who has been tipped for a move to the Premier League sooner rather than later. He is also not likely to change his front three; Boyd, Taylor and Sinclair who have served him well.
SAFC: Mignolet, Gardner, O'Shea, Kilgallon, Richardson, Elmohamady, Vaughan, Cattermole, McClean, Sessegnon, Ji
PUFC: Lewis, Alcock, Zakuani, Bennett, Rowe, Wootton, Kearns, Tunnicliffe, Boyd, Taylor, Sinclair.
Sunderland's last competitive victory over Peterborough came in March of 1994 as Mick Buxton's SAFC side kept alive their hopes of making the First Division Play-Offs. SAFC took advantage of a Posh side that looked off the pace that day and took full advantage courtesy of their pacey forwards; Craig Russell and Phil Gray, with the Jarrow Arrow
bagging a brace.
Get Rich Quick:
We had another winner last time out. Well, OK, predicting a win against Wigan wasn't quite as "tip-tastic" as Michael Graham's prediction of a victory over Manchester City but hey, a winner's still a winner!
With Peterborough's eye for goal and their fan's roaring them on I can see The Posh grabbing a goal but they way SAFC are playing at the moment is irresistable, so I can see the lad's replying with two or three of their own.
- Sunderland to win 3-1 is available at around 12/1.
- Ji to find the bag of the net and score first? 6/1
- Put the two together? 60/1
Song For Whoever:
Paul Jacques hit us up on twitter @AngryPaul83 and suggested Bob Dylan's classic "The Times They Are A Changing" an apt classic I'm sure you'll agree. However the first rendition that came to my mind was this beautiful cover from Pearl Jam's frontman Eddie Vedder
I really expect SAFC to keep the momentum going and look to put another victory under their belts and can see the lads running out 2 or 3-1 winners. Lets go with 3-1!
Ha'way the lads!