Behind Enemy Lines: Sunderland

ON form, you would expect there to be only one winner on Saturday.

Millwall are flying, unbeaten in eight league games and having won their last three.

Sunderland, bottom of the table, haven’t tasted victory in six Championship games.

Millwall have a number of players in excellent form. After his goal in last week’s 1-0 win over Burton, Ben Marshall will be hoping to continue his good start in a Millwall shirt, while the defence as a unit has been key to four clean sheets in six games.

Steve Morison and Lee Gregory are proving too hot to handle for many Championship defences, and John O’Shea could have his hands full this weekend.

George Saville will be hoping to get back on the goal trail. He scored two free-kicks when the sides drew 2-2 in November, but has just one goal since then.

Sunderland desperately need to start picking up points sooner rather than later. The appointment of Chris Coleman hasn’t provided the upturn they wanted, with the former Wales boss overseeing just four wins in his 17 league games in charge.

Lucas Ball spoke to Sunderland fan Jack Jenkins this week.

Why do you support Sunderland?

Funny story. When I was five I was staying with my uncle and aunt, who are both Newcastle fans. They wanted to take me to my first football match but the Newcastle game was sold out.

After watching Sunderland lose 2-1 to West Brom instead, I was more than prepared for a life of football disappointment supporting Sunderland.

What’s been your favourite season following your side?

The 2006-07 season. We lost the opening four league games before Roy Keane was appointed and after a run of 14 victories in 17 league games from the start of 2007 we won the Championship to secure promotion back to the Premier League.

We had an equally weak squad as this season but strong leadership and smart transfers made the difference.

Do you expect to stay up?

I do, yes. It'll be a VERY close scrape but I still believe that we have enough quality and experience to survive.

The club is in a bit of disarray – what is going on with the ownership?

It's pretty simple. Ellis Short wants to sell the club but no one wants to buy it.

Most fans are generally angry at him as he hasn't given our recent managers any transfer budget.

However, I do feel some sympathy for him as last summer he bailed the club out of financial difficulties with his own money. It's just very obvious that it's an investment gone wrong.

Sunderland have scored twice in injury-time in the last four games, so can still be a threat. Who might Chris Coleman’s danger men be on Saturday?

The young attackers Joel Asoro (18) and Josh Maja (19) – both of whom came through the youth system – as they seem to be the only players who play to win. They're also very fast which always helps.

Which Millwall players will Sunderland be wary of?

Tim Cahill – if he plays.

Also, any aerial ball into the box is a scary one, especially with how nervous our defense is.

What’s your predicted Sunderland formation and starting XI?



Browning O'Shea Kone

McManaman Cattermole Williams Robson Oviedo

Asoro Maja

Finally, a score prediction?

2-2 draw, same as the reverse. Millwall are in very good form but I think if Sunderland play the same as they did against Middlesbrough last weekend (3-3 draw) they'll get at least a point.

Graphic: @ShedCreative