Ronald Koeman fears a Sunderland backlash following their rout at Everton, but is hopeful Southampton’s quality will shine through in Saturday’s Premier League clash.
Sunderland welcome Koeman’s men to the Stadium of Light having followed a 3-0 win over arch local rivals Newcastle United in Sam Allardyce’s second game in charge by losing 6-2 at Goodison Park last Sunday.
Allardyce’s side sit second bottom with just six points from 11 games, although Koeman is taking nothing for granted, especially as Sunderland claimed a 2-1 win in last season’s corresponding fixture as they narrowly avoided relegation to the Championship.
Koeman said: “We know what we can expect from Sunderland, they will react, they play at home they need points, normally those are the most dangerous teams to play against.
“I don’t think they will do the kind of mistakes they did against Everton.
“We have players to create a lot of problems to them. If we play on our level, if we are doing what we have to do and what we used to do in the last few games, we are the better side.”
Southampton – enjoying another impressive start – have no new injury worries to contend with, although will be without midfielder Victor Wanyama due to suspension.
Wanyama joins Shane Long (ankle) and Jay Rodriguez (foot) on the sidelines, with Koeman confirming the forward duo are still not 100 per cent fit.
Koeman told Southampton’s YouTube channel: “They are close, but still it’s too fast for them to be part of the team.
“I hope that the two weeks in the international break give them the possibility to get totally freshness, totally physical wise to be prepared for the next one.”
Sunderland are set to have Fabio Borini (ankle), John O’Shea (hamstring), Ola Toivonen and Younes Kaboul (both groin) back from injury.
However, the hosts will be minus the services of combative midfielder Lee Cattermole because of a groin issue.
After a dreadful defensive effort at Everton, striker Steven Fletcher wants to make sure Sunderland keep their focus in both attack and defence, telling the club’s official website: “The amount of chances we got on Sunday was the most I have ever had in a game since I moved to Sunderland.
“It’s good in that aspect but we need to keep the door shut at the other end.
“We are creating chances though which is a good thing, hopefully we can stop conceding so many and we will be alright.”
Key Opta stats:
– Since beating Southampton in May, Sunderland have won just one of their last six Premier League games at the Stadium of Light (W1 D3 L2) and that was last time out against Newcastle United.
– Last season Southampton inflicted Sunderland’s heaviest Premier League defeat when they won 8-0 at St Mary’s Stadium.
– Southampton have won just one of their last 12 Premier League away games (W1 D5 L6), but are unbeaten in the last five (W1 D4).
– Sunderland have failed to keep a clean sheet in 11 of their last 12 Premier League matches.
– Sunderland have the lowest average possession figure in the Premier League so far this season (41.7 per cent).