The EFL League One match coming up this Saturday, 14 September 2019, between Accrington Stanley F.C. and Sunderland A.F.C. will take place at WHAM Stadium in Accrington, England. In last week's match Accrington was able to earn a hard fought draw with Bristol Rovers F.C.. They were able to fight back to achieve a 3-3 result on the road, in spite of being down to 10 men after the sending off of Seamus Conneely in the 49th minute. The point earned was their fifth of the season, and allowed them to move ahead of Oxford United F.C. based on goal differential, thus moving them up to 19th in the table. Sunderland hasn't played since 31 August 2019, after their last match against Burton Albion F.C. was postponed due to international call-ups. In their previous match, they suffered a 3-0 beating at Peterborough United F.C.. They also had 2 players sent off against Peterborough. First, midfielder Luke O'Nien was sent off in the 71st minute, followed by Charlie Wyke in the 77th minute. O'Nien has appealed his suspension and will be available for Saturday, but Wyke, an impact player who scored a goal against Stanley in their League Cup match-up last month will be unavailable on Saturday. Accrington will be without defender Zaine Francis-Angol due to injury.
For Accrington, it is a massive match when Sunderland comes to town, and Chairman of the Official Accrington Stanley Supporters Club Peter Leatham is looking forward to it, saying "it would a massive boost to the club if we can overcome one of the strongest sides in the division. It would be surprising if Sunderland aren’t there or there about at the end of the season. The whole club is geared for a higher level of football, but it’s still only 11 v 11 on the day."
While Sunderland is one of the strongest sides in League One on paper, and are one of the favorites to win promotion, their current 8th place slot in the table is well below where they expect to be. Things started off slow for The Black Cats with draws in each of their first 2 matches, after that they reeled off 3 wins in-a-row before the Peterborough debacle. It is unusual for 2 clubs to be meeting for the 2nd time this early in the year, but as mentioned above, they met in the EFL Cup just one month ago. In that match, Stanley held firm until the final 10+ minutes of the game, at which point Sunderland's impact players really turned the game in their favor, and they ended up winning 3-1. As mentioned, one of those impact players who scored, Wyke, will be unavailable on Saturday, but the man who really changed that game in the eyes of most was Aiden McGeady. Accrington seemed to have no answer for McGeady once he took the field in that match, and with this being a league match, I expect that we will see him in the starting lineup.
Accrington Stanley vs Sunderand A.F.C. Vital Information
This match can be will be the first that can be viewed on Accrington Stanley iFollow or in the United States, and in the UK at 10:00 AM U.S. ET/3:00 PM GMT.
Referee appointments have Lee Swabey as the referee, with assistants Barry Gordon and Kevin Mulraine, and the fourth official Samuel Paul Graham.
This will be the 4th meeting all time between Accrington Stanley F.C. and Sunderland A.F.C.. In the previous 3 meetings, Sunderland has won 2 times, Accrington has won 0, and there has been 1 draw. The last time these two played in a League One match, it was a 3-0 Sunderland win at WHAM Stadium, back on 3 April 2019. This was of course the famous replay of the Sunderland and Accrington, December game that was called in the 72nd minute, while level at 1-1 due to unplayable conditions. Counting the unfinished match, it will mark a total of 6 meetings (5 official) in less than 20 months between the two by the time they square off at the Stadium of Light on 25 April 2020. Saturday will be Sunderland's 4th time taking the field at WHAM stadium in less than 10 months.
Five Points That Shouldn’t Be Overlooked
The difference between these two clubs is more than just that Sunderland supporters are probably counting Accrington as 2 wins, and Accrington fans are hoping to maybe get a draw at home when the schedule comes out at the beginning of the season. We have often joked about this, but it just can't be stated enough times that the city of Accrington has a population of roughly 36,000, while Sunderland's stadium capacity is 49,000. This is really as David vs Goliath as it gets in professional sports. That being said, if Accrington were able to pull off the upset, the 2 clubs would find themselves separated by just 3 points in the table.
Just how big of an upset would it be, apparently not as big as you might think. Looking at the odds it seems that the professionals think that Accrington has only remotely less of a chance of getting a result at home against Sunderland, then they did last week at Bristol. Looking at the link you will see that a bet on Accrington to win pays 5/2. (Ie. a bet of 10 quid on Accy would to win would pay back 35, your original 10 plus 25 in winnings). This was the same odds that you could have gotten betting on them to beat Bristol last week. A draw right now is paying 11/4, which again is similar to the 12/5 odds you would have gotten paid out on, betting on a draw at Bristol. Last week, you could have gotten even money by betting on Bristol to win, while this week Sunderland is paying our 10/11, or just 10% less than Bristol was paying out this week. Essentially these numbers are saying that they think Sunderland beating Accrington, at Accrington is only a 10% greater probability than Bristol (a perennial mid-table club) beating Accrington, at Bristol. What all of this adds up to this that this is not a match that is going to be as easy as Mackems may think, as it appears the bookmakers are concerned enough about a draw to set the line in a way that encourages action on The Black Cats.
If you have been watching Accrington the past few seasons, it may be a bit difficult to recognize the unit that is out on the field these days. There are still plenty of staple guys like veterans Sean McConville(suspended for Saturday), and Conneely in the midfield, and talented young but experienced defenders on the back line like Callum Johnson and Ross Sykes. However, they now have more than 15 new faces in the locker room since last season, and some of these guys look primed to change the whole dynamic of the club. We have already talked at length about Colby Bishop, who has already become a staple at striker, and Joe Pritchard, the center attacking midfielder who has spearheaded their recent offensive insurgence. In spite of new faces joining the line-up every week, long time Accrington manager John Coleman has done a tremendous job of meshing in new faces, while advancing the style of play on the pitch. As mentioned on our recent Episode 56 by Arran Airs, last week against Bristol, Accrington attempted 20 shots, or twice as many as they managed to get off against Sunderland in that League Cup game last month.
While admittedly, I haven't talked a lot about Sunderland in this article, most of the folks reading this are either my regular readers from Accrington, or Mackems who probably have lots of questions about Accrington, things like, "that's a city?" and "who are they?". But I can't go without mentioning that Sunderland's currently leading scorer is Chris Maguire with 4 goals, 3 of which came in the form of a hat trick against AFC Wimbledon on 24 August 2019. He did not play in the Peterborough match, but I expect he should be in the starting lineup this week with Wyke unavailable. You may also remember that U.S. international, Lynden Gooch got off to a hot start with goals in each of the seasons first 2 games. He has not registered a goal since however. No one else has scored more than once for Sunderland so far this season. Jon McLaughlin has started all 6 games in goal for The Black Cats, and has a decent 1.33 goals per 90 minutes, but a middling .636% save percentage, and has yet to record a clean sheet. Sunderland ultimately appears to be a team that has the talent, and should be winning by outscoring people, but manager Jack Ross just seems hesitant to play an open style. That to me is the biggest reason for their inconsistency is trying to play "Mourhino Ball", or an overly conservative style with a team that is built to score.
I was absolutely blown away by the debut of Fulham F.C. loanee Jerome Opoku. At 6 feet 4 inches tall, I am nicknaming him "The Big Unit", both in honor of former Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson, and also in honor of recently learning that is something English people actually say. In just 31 minutes, The Big Unit made an impressive impact in his debut, and with his size and athleticism looked like a man playing among children. This is in spite of being just 20-year-old himself, and having never played in a professional game before. Not only was his physical presence felt on defense, but he showed impressive on ball skills and an ability to advance play forward from the center-back position. Accrington has more solidity on cohesiveness along their back line than any other part of the roster, regardless, Opoku is a talent that they need to find a way to get on the pitch. Even Accy's iFollow commentating team commented during the Bristol match that it might even be worth looking at playing 5 backs just to get this man on the field.
Accrington Stanley vs Sunderand A.F.C. Prediction
I think this is going to be one of those matches where every centimeter on the pitch costs 5 pound of flesh, and I would not be surprised if either or both of these clubs finish this game with less than 11 men on the field. It is going to take Accrigton's best effort defensively, but I am going to say this one ends with 1 goal and 1 point for each club.
Prediction: Accrington Stanley - 1 Sunderland A.F.C. - 1