What tactics will Blackpool use? Who are the ones to watch? Scout Report ahead of weekend clash
Blackpool manager Simon Grayson returns to the Stadium of Light looking to become the Grinch and ruin Sunderland’s Christmas.
Grayson was sacked as Sunderland manager 17 minutes after a 3-3 draw with Bolton in 2017 in a season to forget for the Black Cats.
And as Sunderland prepare for the return of their former manager, how will his Blackpool side set up ahead of the weekends fixture?
How will they line-up?
Blackpool have not shown much consistency in terms of formation with it changing most weeks as Grayson picks a formation to exploit opposition weaknesses.
With Sunderland having major weaknesses in wide areas, especially on the right side of defence, it may be expected that he will stick with the 4-3-3 used in their last outing, a 3-1 win over Fleetwood Town.
Something Sunderland will need to be wary of is a high concentration of the tangerines goals come just before and just after half time, with 24% of their goals coming in that time, more than any other time frame during a game.
With 11 league goals, striker Armand Gnanduillet will be a major threat to a faulty Sunderland defence that has only two clean sheets this season.
With exceptional aerial ability, he can expose a massive weakness that has not been dealt with since Sunderland were relegated to League One, and with a clinical right foot, be it in the air or on the ground Gnanduillet will be a threat throughout the whole 90 minutes.
Another to be wary off is experienced midfielder Liam Feeney who has started the season in inspired form.
With 10 assists to his name this season and nine of those coming in the league, the Sunderland will need to keep an eye out for the creative midfielder, who will be eager to show his ability in front of the near 30,000 expected at the Stadium of Light.
One to note for Sunderland fans is goalkeeper Jak Alnwick, who came through Newcastle’s academy and is now a regular for Blackpool and has six clean sheets to his name.
What is their current form?
Blackpool are currently second in the form table, only behind Wycombe, with three wins and two draws from their last five games.
In that time, they have scored 11 goals while only conceding six, which is impressive given they have played Fleetwood, Ipswich and Peterborough, who are all flying high in the league this season.
Blackpool sit in fourth place knowing a win could send them up to third and potentially one point behind second placed Ipswich, who would still have a game in hand.
With Sunderland in dire form, they need to be careful of Blackpool who, should they continue where they left off at Fleetwood, do serious damage on the pitch and further lower the morale of an already fragile squad.