Premier League: Sunderland hoping to put a dent in Manchester City's title bid
Sunderland will be looking to edge further clear of trouble on Boxing Day, while putting a dent in Man City's title bid.
Last Updated: 24/12/12 9:41am
Sunderland will be looking to edge further clear of trouble on Boxing Day, while putting a serious dent in Manchester City's title bid.
The Black Cats enjoyed a pre-Christmas boost when they saw off Southampton at St Mary's, with two wins in three lifting them four points clear of the relegation zone.
There is, however, still work to be done heading into the New Year if Martin O'Neill's men are to avoid being dragged into a basement battle.
A meeting with reigning champions City is unlikely to have featured prominently on their festive wish list, but the Black Cats did beat the Blues at the Stadium of Light last season.
Roberto Mancini's men will be wary of suffering a repeat on Wearside, with a dramatic victory over Reading on Saturday having allowed them to close to within four points of table-topping Manchester United.
The challenge now is to ensure that there are no untimely slip-ups before the end of the year, with City determined to make life as uncomfortable as possible for their arch-rivals at the summit.Sunderland are sweating on the involvement of Adam Johnson against his former employers.
The Black Cats' summer signing from City hobbled out of the action at Southampton on Saturday and O'Neill is unsure as to whether the winger will be ready for an immediate return to action.
Lee Cattermole (knee) and Wes Brown (knee ligaments) remain on the sidelines.
Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany (groin) could return on Wednesday after being kept on the bench as a precaution last weekend.
Striker Mario Balotelli (illness) could also come back into contention while left-backs Aleksandar Kolarov and Gael Clichy will hope to overcome niggles.
Forward Samir Nasri is out with a hamstring injury while right-back Micah Richards (knee) and midfielder Jack Rodwell (hamstring) remain on the long-term casualty list.