Stadium of Light

If Sunderland are to stop the rot, and have any chance of coming away from the south coast with a win, then these three key players must step up on Saturday.

  1. Jordan Pickford

The young goalkeeper has impressed all season with many impressive saves – only Burnley’s Tom Heaton has made more saves in the Premier League this season.

There is no doubt that his form must continue if Sunderland are to get a result against Eddie Howe’s side.

Pickford will not only be relied upon to make saves this weekend, but with Callum Wilson waiting to pounce at every opportunity, his handling must also be impeccable.

The 22-year-old local stopper is certainly capable but with no Sunderland victories – or even a clean sheet – he must not become disheartened.

  1. Lamine Kone

Kone was one of several players who made a huge impact last season which played a large part in Sunderland’s survival.

Not only was Kone impressive in defence, but also chipped in with some important goals from set pieces.

There are several reasons why Kone may be struggling this term: It could be that talk of a move to Everton in the summer was a distraction; he could be missing Younes Kaboul, his defensive partner from last season; or it may be that he is not able to adapt to David Moyes’ style of football.

One thing is certain – Kone’s mistakes are one of the reasons why the Black Cats find themselves bottom of the table, and he must improve if they are to start winning games again.

  1. Didier Ndong

Gabonese midfielder Ndong needs to up his game and show why Moyes broke the club’s transfer record to bring him to Wearside.

He must get on the ball more, keep possession better and try to influence the game more.

Jack Wilshere has done just that for Bournemouth in the short time he has been there, and has become an integral member of the Cherries’ midfield, complementing their style of play.

Always keen to get on the ball, the Arsenal loanee makes things happen.

If Ndong, and Sunderland as a whole, cannot match Wilshere, then it could be a long afternoon for the travelling Sunderland fans, as the home side will dominate possession.