I genuinely have so much fear and trepidation writing this knowing this weekend could finally be the weekend we slip into the bottom four…..right negative head switched off time to talk with the heart!
The Saddlers head to Sunderland this weekend hoping to continue our fine run of form against the Black Cats, winning one and drawing two of our games against them this season.
A certain Will Grigg will face his former side again this weekend as he drops down to League 1 for the 500th time of his career.
Duncan Watmore will be missing for the rest of the season following his ligament injury last weekend.
Walsall boss Dean Keates has stated that Blackett-Taylor has given him food for thought ahead of this weekends trip following his substitute appearance on Tuesday evening.
Walsall welcome back leading goalscorer Andy Cook following his three match suspension.
LIKELY LINE UPS?
Unfairly given his performances lately but I can see Gordon slotting into Ferriers wide position on Saturday with Cookie returning to the side as the lone striker.
Sunderland – McLaughlin, O’Nien, Baldwin, Dunne, Matthews, Cattermole, Leadbitter, Gooch, Power, McGeady, Grigg
Walsall – Roberts, Devlin, Scarr, Guthrie, Leahy, Ismail, Kinsella, Dobson, Edwards, Gordon, Cook
ONES TO WATCH
WILL GRIGG (SUNDERLAND)
If there is one former player you dont want to face whilst you are deep in a relegation battle its Will Grigg.
Grigg may have only scored seven goals this season (four in Championship and three in League 1) but he always finds the net against us. Since leaving the Saddlers in 2014 he has scored four times in his seven appearances against the Saddlers, including a brace the last time we face him away from home.
ANDY COOK (WALSALL)
Cookie is allegedly a Newcastle fan so to score at the Stadium of Light must be his dream, imagine him sticking his tongue out in front of the home end!
Cookie has scored against the Black Cats already this season during our 1-1 FA Cup First Round tie at the Banks’s Stadium.
Cookie has been missing for three games will be looking to make amends as we head into a crucial run in.
- Sunderland have lost at home once in their last twenty games – a 1-0 home defeat to Walsall thanks to Liam Kinsella.
- Sunderland have won six of their last ten home games, drawing four. Scoring nineteen goals and conceding seven.
- Walsall have won just one of our last ten away games since Sunderland. That win came at Gillingham in January.
- Form (last five) – Sunderland – DDWWW Walsall – LWDWL
The Saddlers and Sunderland have met on just sixteen occasions. Sunderland 8, Draw 4, Walsall 4
We have face each other three times this season, with Walsall winning one and drawing two.
Our last five away games v Sunderland
11.12.18 – Sunderland 0-1 Walsall
18.10.03 – Sunderland 1-0 Walsall
14.09.99 – Sunderland 3-2 Walsall
11.02.89 – Sunderland 0-3 Walsall
06.02.88 – Sunderland 1-1 Walsall
REFEREE: ALAN YOUNG
Assistants: Nicholas Cooper & Wayne Grunnill
Fourth Official: Simon Clayton
Young has officiated twenty-eight games this season, dishing out one hundred and twenty-one yellows, four reds and awarding three penalties.
Young has officiated three games this season involving the Saddlers, all coming on the road. He last officiated a Saddlers game when we defeated Oxford 2-1 earlier this season. His other two games was our 3-0 defeat at Southend and our 2-0 defeat at Portsmouth.
Anyone other than a Walsall fan will predict an easy victory for Sunderland but given our record this season and with us needing points I will go with my heart and say we will salvage a draw….
VITAL PREDICTION – SUNDERLAND 1-1 WALSALL
Saturday 23rd March
Sky Bet League 1
WALSALL v Barnsley