Saturday, January 22
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Dec 4, 2021 at 3pm UK
Oxford UtdOxford United
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Brannagan (5'), Taylor (13')

Preview: Sunderland vs. Oxford United - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Sunderland vs. Oxford United - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's League One clash between Sunderland and Oxford United, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Oxford United have the opportunity to leapfrog Saturday's opponents Sunderland into the League One playoff positions, if the Yellows can collect all three points at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland are currently on a three-game unbeaten run in the league, while Oxford have strung together six domestic outings without defeat.

Match preview

Lee Johnson's side have not defended their EFL Trophy title and dropped out of the competition on Wednesday evening as they fell to a 1-0 defeat against League Two outfit Oldham Athletic.

However, a 2-1 triumph last weekend against Cambridge United ensured that the Black Cats remained fifth in the table and with one game in hand on leaders Rotherham, Sunderland can draw level on points with top spot.

Sunderland's form at the Stadium of Light this season has almost been perfect, losing just one of their eight league matches on home soil, while Oxford did struggle on their travels at the start of this season.

A major factor as to why Sunderland have returned so many points on their own patch this campaign is that they have only conceded four goals in the North East, the best home defensive record in the division.

Karl Robinson's side can boast the best home record in tier three so far but in contrast they rank 17th in the away form table, although, seven of their eight away points have come in their last three consecutive games on the road.

Last time out table-toppers Rotherham visited the Kassam Stadium and the two teams played out a goalless draw, which left Robinson feeling proud of his players' efforts after the squad have been hit with many coronavirus cases.

The Yellows have two games in hand on three of the teams above them and one game in hand on two of the sides in the playoff positions, so three points on Saturday will put Oxford in a strong position to break into and retain a place in the top six.

As League One approach the halfway stage of the fixture list, Robinson will want his side to finish the first half of the season in a strong position to have something to fight for in the new year.

Sunderland hold the better record in the recent meetings between these two teams, and the Black Cats completed the double over the Yellows last season.

Sunderland League One form:
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • W

Sunderland form (all competitions):
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L

Oxford United League One form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D

Oxford United form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • D

Team News

Ross Stewart is leading the way on the goalscoring front for Sunderland, having netted 10 times in 18 appearances, with the next best in the red and white stripes coming from Carl Winchester and Aiden McGeady, who both have three goals to their name.

Winchester is expected to start in centre midfield alongside Daniel Neil, who also provides an attacking threat from the middle of the pitch having registered five assists this season.

Nathan Broadhead, who is on loan from Everton, scored his first league goal for Sunderland against Cambridge and he is expected to start in an attacking role for the home side.

Oxford have been without seven first team players for the last two games due to COVID-19, meaning that goalkeeper Connal Trueman was brought in on an emergency loan from Birmingham City, but he has now returned to the Blues and Yellows keeper Simon Eastwood will return between the posts.

Oxford's top goalscorer Matty Taylor was forced to miss the last two games but he will be a welcome return this weekend, along with centre-back Elliot Moore.

Sunderland possible starting lineup:
Hoffman; O'Nien, Wright, Doyle, Gooch; Neil, Winchester; Broadhead, Pritchard, O'Brien; Stewart

Oxford United possible starting lineup:
Eastwood; Seddon, Thorniley, Moore, Long; Brannagan, Kane, Henry; Holland, Taylor, Sykes

We say: Sunderland 1-2 Oxford United

Oxford will be boosted by the return of some key players and their confidence will be high having put together a strong run of form in League One and dealing with big hits to their squad.

Sunderland are also not in bad form themselves but their run across the end of October and beginning of November shows that there are still weaknesses for Oxford to exploit on Saturday.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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