DESPITE Sunderland’s poor start to the season, which has seen them pick up just one win in 11 games, there’s still some undoubted quality in their side with Premier League pedigree.
If Simon Grayson can get his team playing in the manner he hopes then the Black Cats do have the quality to cause most teams in this division problems. We take a closer look at the players who could make a difference in Saturday’s match.
- Ball retention
- Composure in front of goal
Arguably Sunderland’s best player last season and someone who can influence the game in the middle of the park. Ndong was an expensive recruit for the Black Cats, costing the club north of £13 million and but has so far only shown glimpses of his talent. The Gabon international is very comfortable in possession whilst also more than capable of harassing the opposition out of the ball and has an impressive engine which allows him up and down the field. The midfielder was the best player on the park when the two sides met in the League Cup last season and someone Rangers will want to keep influence at a minimum.
After an encouraging start to his career with the Black Cats Kone’s stock has fallen in recent seasons. The centre half, who was subject to an £18 million bid from Everton, just over a year ago has all the physical qualities to succeed in English football and when he’s focussed he can be a nightmare for forwards to face due to his strength, power and aerial ability. But he’s not been at his convincing best at times this season with only Burton Albion and Cardiff conceding more goals than Sunderland so far this campaign. It’s unclear as to what Kone will show up on Saturday but if the Rangers frontline can somehow get the better of the big Ivorian then that could go a long way towards victory.
- Long range shooting
- Can often lose possession
A crowd pleaser and one that can often be a match changer, McGeady has been a shining light in a season that has yet to take off for Sunderland. His ability to beat defenders in one on one situations is valuable at any level of football and unlike many wingers in the division, the Republic of Ireland winger often has a final ball to show for his trickery. Rangers have been somewhat guilty of allowing too many long range shots go past them this season and he is another player capable of dishing out punishment if given too much time around the edge of the box – highlighted by his goal for Preston North End against the R’s last season. But if there’s one weakness to the midfielder’s game it’s that he can be guilty of hanging on to the ball for too long and that can provide the opposition with situations to counter attack.