Owen Coyle must decide whether or not to change his eleven after two heavy defeats at Chelsea and Liverpool.

He has Michael Duff available for the first time this season, but the defence is likely to remain unchanged with any changes taking place further up the pitch, and Duff may not even force his way into the squad.

Wade Elliott, Graham Alexander and Martin Paterson are probably the three most vulnerable players after some thoroughly ordinary performances, with Chris Eagles, David Nugent and Kevin McDonald all pushing hard for their first starts in the league of the season.

Coyle is still without his skipper, with former Sunderland man Steven Caldwell still inching towards a full recovery from his groin injury.

Sunderland have problems in goal with both Marton Fulop and Craig Gordon carrying knocks, but one of them, probably Gordon, will be fit enough to start the match. Lee Cattermole is the only other doubt from the Black Cats’ first team.

Darren Bent has started the season on fire for his new employers with four league goals already, and he is the man the Clarets back line must keep quiet if they are to keep up their incredible home record at Turf Moor. Burnley have won their last eight at home, only losing at the ground twice this year, and not conceding a goal since March. Kenwyne Jones will provide an aerial threat, partnering Bent up front.

Lorik Cana has made an impressive start in midfield for Sunderland and if Cattermole does miss out he will be under pressure to have a good game in the middle of the park, without adding to his three yellow cards so far this season. The Black Cats have a wealth of options in midfield, with Andy Reid, Kieran Richardson and Steed Malbranque all capable of playing either out wide or in the middle.

Defensively, new Cats boss Steve Bruce – who spent four years on Burnley’s books as a youngster, he revealed this week – has strengthened extensively this season, although both John Mensah and Paulo Da Silva are yet to break into the first team. Hull’s Michael Turner was the main addition, and he will partner Anton Ferdinand at the heart of the Mackem back line, with former Burnley loanee Phil Bardsley and George McCartney the men likely to start at full-back in a basic 4-4-2 formation.

Burnley may rejig their team, but Coyle is expected to stick with the 4-5-1 shape that has garnered his team a 100% record from their first two home games this season. Sunderland have one win, at Bolton, and one defeat, at Stoke, on the road this season, and they will be looking to build on their finest start to a Premier League campaign in years.

Burnley are the lowest scorers in the division so far, but they have made use of their goals, with Robbie Blake netting the winner against Manchester United and Wade Elliott bagging the goal that sunk Everton. If Burnley do win tomorrow in front of the SKY Sports cameras, they will become the first Premier League team to win their oprning three home games of the season since Blackburn Rovers, of all teams, 17 years ago.

Matches between the two have been memorable in recent years, with Stan Ternent marking his last game in charge of Burnley in front of conga-ing Sunderland fans, and Burnley putting up a gallant fight as Sunderland won 3-2 in a pulsating Stadium of Light fixture to take a giant stride towards promotion two years ago.

A point would suit both teams as they look to consolidate strong starts to the season, but Sunderland could have too much firepower for the Clarets, with Bent likely to continue his hot streak.

Prediction: Burnley 1-2 Sunderland

This article was written for FansOnline Burnley.

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