Our prediction for this Championship match:
Birmingham City and Sunderland face each other at St. Andrews’ Stadium in the opening match of round 21. The Blues have been producing fine displays in the Championship of late, with the team beating both QPR and Stoke, while sharing the spoils with Swansea and Millwall, and they are certainly capable of matching the Black Cats on home soil. Attacking duo Troy Deeney and Scott Hogan should keep their places up front after getting their names on the scoresheet on Tuesday, while both Gary Gardner and Przemyslaw Placheta miss out with injuries.
The Black Cats, on the other hand, aim to make amends for a 1-0 loss to Cardiff City. Sunderland have been having their ups and downs of late, but home win should be considered as Birmingham have been making progress week by week. As for the away side, all Aji Alese, Lynden Gooch, Niall Huggins, Ross Stewart, and Daniel Ballard miss out with injuries.
Highlighted Player (George Friend):
George Friend has played for no less than nine English clubs so far in his career. Friend made his first-team debut for non-League club Exeter City on April 17, 2006 in a goalless draw with Forest Green Rovers and he stayed at St James Park until 2008. After ending his loan spells with Tiverton Town and Team Bath he joined Wolverhampton, but he made no more than seven appearances for the Wolves in the league.
The 188-cm-tall left-back, who is capable of playing as a centre-back as well, played for the likes of Millwall, Southend, Scunthorpe United and Exeter City on loan during his spell with Wolverhampton and at the end of the 2009/2010 season he signed a two-year deal with Doncaster Rovers. Friend made his Doncaster debut on August 7, 2010 in a 2-0 win over Preston and after three years at the club he was sold to Middlesbrough for a fee of £100,000.
The left-footed defender has been playing for Boro ever since and you should know that he made 24 appearances for the club in the 2016/2017 Premier League campaign.
Highlighted Team (Sunderland):
Sunderland are a professional football club that have been playing their home games at the Stadium of Light since 1997. The capacity of the stadium is 49,000, but before expansion the original ground capacity was 42,000. Red and White shirts are Sunderland’s trademark and the club’s fiercest rivals are Newcastle United. The two local rivals have been contesting in the Tyne-Wear derby since 1898 and there have always been fireworks in what is one of the greatest derbies in English football. Sunderland were on the verge of dropping to the Championship in the 2015/2016 Premier League campaign, but experienced tactician Sam Allardyce eventually helped the team avoid relegation.
The Black Cats have won six First Division trophies (now the Premier League), with the team lifting two FA Cup titles. Sunderland won their first FA Cup trophy in 1937, with the team beating Preston North End 3-1 in the title game. The club was founded in 1879 as Sunderland and District Teachers A.F.C.