Sunderland ace Connor Wickham expects epic against City

BIG GAME ... Sunderland's Connor Wickham is expecting another entertaining clash.
BIG GAME ... Sunderland's Connor Wickham is expecting another entertaining clash.

CONNOR Wickham predicts another Man City-Sunderland classic this weekend when the Black Cats travel to the home of the Premier League champions.

Last season, the sides played out two epic encounters as Sunderland emerged as City’s bogey team.

The Black Cats took four points from six from Roberto Mancini’s side – winning their New Year’s Day game at the Stadium of Light in the last minute, and coming within seconds of becoming the only Premier League team to win at the Eastlands Stadium.

As it was, Sunderland held a two-goal lead going into the last five minutes against City in Manchester and even though they drew, still emerged as the only side in the whole of the Premier League not to be beaten by the eventual champions at Eastlands.

Wickham believes this weekend’s game is likely to be another enthralling encounter as two of only three unbeaten sides in the Premier League go head-to-head.

He told the Gazette: “Last season’s games were amazing in terms of going all the way down to the wire, and I think we showed in those games the team spirit and the quality we have in the side.

“You have to ride your luck sometimes against the very best teams, and you also have to hold your nerve.

“We did both last season, and there’s no reason why we can’t do it again this weekend because we have a stronger squad.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if it was another great game this weekend, because we’re not a side to fear anyone and we’re still unbeaten.”

Wickham’s first-team opportunities have been limited this term due to the summer signings of Steven Fletcher and Louis Saha.

But he believes that the strengthening of the strikeforce improves Sunderland’s hopes this weekend.

He said: “Steven Fletcher has hit the ground running, and with the signings we’ve made we do have more goals in the squad now.

“One of the best things about this weekend is that plenty of Sunderland players will have played in those games last season, so they know that it can be done.

“You can go to Eastlands and get something from the game, and if you work hard enough City can be beaten.

“I’ve been in and around the squad and would love to be involved this weekend. There’s a lot of competition for places but I’ll just keep working hard and see what happens.”

Meanwhile, Wickham and on-loan Sunderland left-back Danny Rose have both been named in the England Under-21 squad for the European Championship play-off double-header against Serbia.

The pair will face Serbia in Norwich next Friday, with the second leg on Tuesday, October 16 in Krusevac.

n Wickham was speaking at Sunderland College’s Bede Campus where he took part in a kickabout to promote the free ‘Just Play’ week.

The event, sponsored by Mars and the FA, begins next Monday, October 8 with 150 venues across the UK offering free Just Play football sessions.

Sign up for a free session by searching online for the ‘Just Play’ website for your nearest centre.