Sunderland have the opportunity to pull off a shock and reach the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup tonight as they face Arsenal away from home.
The Black Cats face the Premier League side two divisions above them and, therefore, will go into the game as the heavy underdogs and may be able to play with freedom without the weight of expectation weighing them down.
They come into the game off the back of a 1-1 draw with Ipswich at Portman Road in League One at the weekend, leaving Lee Johnson’s side third in the table.
How many changes will Johnson make? Here is our predicted XI…
We are predicting that he will make three alterations to the side, with Elliot Embleton, Denver Hume and Corry Evans coming in.
Leon Dajaku is reportedly set to miss out on the clash due to injury, which opens up a spot on the right for someone to come in. Hume came on to replace him at right wing-back at Portman Road and could slot in for him tonight at The Emirates, after winning four of his seven duels and completing three tackles despite playing in an unfamiliar position.
In midfield, Evans is reportedly fit for the game and could make his return. He could start ahead of Carl Winchester after the Northern Irishman’s worrying showing at the weekend. As per SofaScore, he lost four of his five ground duels and was dribbled past twice, without making a single tackle, interception, block or clearance.
This shows that he was too easily beaten in the middle of the park and, against a Premier League side, Johnson may want the experience of Evans to solidify the team. The 31-year-old has averaged 2.5 tackles and interceptions per game in League One, showing that he has the defensive nous to make interventions.
Finally, Alex Pritchard could be axed from the tip of the midfield. The £30k-per-week flop struggled against Ipswich, as he failed to create a single chance whilst winning just one of his four individual duels, and could now lose his place in the team.
Embleton, meanwhile, came off the bench and managed one key pass and won two of his three duels in just 27 minutes on the pitch. That cameo may be enough to convince Johnson to axe Pritchard from the XI in order to start the former Blackpool loanee.