December 27, 2014

Both Aston Villa and Sunderland have picked up where they left off last season – which would not be considered a compliment.

Villa have lost four of their five Premier League matches dating back to last season, with their opening day win at Bournemouth their only points in that span.

The Black Cats are now winless in six straight Premier League matches after starting this campaign with two losses and last week's draw at home to Swansea City.

Each side racked up the goals in their League Cup victories over League Two opponents midweek, but convincing final results belied awkward evenings for Dick Advocaat and Tim Sherwood respectively.

Exeter City held Advocaat's Sunderland 3-3 at the interval before three second half goals secured a 6-3 win for the Premier League outfit at the Stadium of Light.

Villa needed extra time to dispose of Notts County who they trailed three times on the night before a Scott Sinclair hat-trick secured their passage to the third round.

Last weekend's 2-1 reverse against Crystal Palace marked successive Premier League losses for Villa and Sinclair believes they need to get their season back on track against Sunderland.

"We're looking to bounce back from the defeat at Crystal Palace," he told the official club website. "In our respective Capital One (League Cup) matches on Tuesday they were involved in a nine-goal game while we had eight goals in our tie.

"Both teams were going at it - and we hope to do so again this weekend. Sunderland are looking to get their first league win. However I believe if we play the way we know we can play, we can create the chances to get the three points."

Villa Park probably wouldn't be Sunderland's top choice to go searching for their first league win. The Black Cats have not won there since a lone Phil Bardsley goal secured a 1-0 win in 2011.

Sunderland have failed to score in four straight Premier League matches against Villa with the goalless streak currently standing at 418 minutes.

Like Sinclair, Jermain Defoe netted a hat-trick in his side's midweek cup tie and he thinks his side can learn from the last league visitors to Villa Park.

Manchester United secured a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Villa on the second day of the season and Defoe sees his side attempting to employ a similar game plan.

"I watched the game against Man United when they (Villa) were at home and they pressed for the first 20 minutes then United kept the ball and it opened up a bit," he told the official club website.

"I think they will do that against us and that's why it's important we stay relaxed and try and keep the ball. It's a big pitch so you've got to stay organized keep the shape and be patient and I believe we'll get our chances."

Villa took four points off the Black Cats last season, including a 4-0 smashing at the Stadium of Light in March. Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor each scored twice. The sides played out a scoreless draw at Villa Park in December. Villa played the final 40 minutes with 10 men after Fabian Delph was sent off.

Sunderland have doubts over a number of players ahead of the match. Adam Matthews (ankle), Steven Fletcher (head), Younes Kaboul (knee), Adam Johnson (shoulder) and Jordi Gomez (knee) are all likely to miss out.

Villa manager Tim Sherwood has injury worries over Adama Traore (ankle), Jose Crespo (groin), Gary Gardner (ankle) and Jores Okore (knee).

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