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Burnley v Sunderland preview: Black Cats may need some luck at Turf Moor

Championship leaders Burnley have turned the title race into a procession which makes Turf Moor a tough place for Sunderland to visit as they strive to breathe life into their own stuttering playoff bid.

They clash in Lancashire on Friday evening in the first Championship action of the weekend. 

WhatBurnley v Sunderland, Championship
WhereTurf Moor, Burnley
When20:00, Friday 31st March
How to watchSky Sports Football & Main Event
OddsBurnley 9/20, Draw 10/3, Sunderland 13/2

Classy Clarets showing no sign of stopping

Vincent Kompany's Burnley have been a cut above the rest of the Championship since day one and with a 13-point buffer over Sheffield United in second place, they can all but cruise their way to the title and an instant return to the Premier League.

They have lost just twice in the league all season – 1-0 at Watford in August and 5-2 at Sheffield United in November.

Since that loss at Bramall Lane they have won 14 and drawn the other three of their 17 matches to exert a vice-like grip on the title race.

Last time out they actually lost 6-0 but that was at Manchester City in the FA Cup, and they've had two weeks to recover from that lesson. Indeed, Clarets fans were flattered that City sent out a strong side for the quarter-final tie.

But this season was all about promotion and Burnley so far have been almost faultless in that quest. 

Brakes slammed on Sunderland's promotion charge 

For Sunderland, it was all looking so good just a few weeks ago when a 3-0 win at QPR hoisted them up to fifth in the table.

Since then, however, if the wheels haven't quite come off then the nuts have been loosened dramatically and having dropped to 11th in the table on a run of only one win in seven they are now out to 14/1 to finish in the top six.

And Tony Mowbray's men were dropping points in matches they were expected to win - conceding an injury time equaliser to draw 1-1 at home to Bristol City and losing 2-1 to Rotherham to name just two disappointing results.

Since then they have managed a 1-0 win at Norwich, and perhaps their late equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Luton going into the international break will have given them a bit of momentum.

The truth is, however, it's wins they need and at 13/2 at Turf Moor on Friday night there isn't any great expectation of three points from this trickiest of trips. 

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No Stewart doesn't necessarily mean no goals for visitors

Sunderland's promotion bid has certainly not been helped by the loss of top scorer Ross Stewart for the season and Everton's decision to recall Ellis Simms in January.

Stewart, despite missing swathes of the campaign, has bagged ten goals in just 13 outings, testament to his ability in front of goal, while Simms had an outstanding first half of the season on loan at the Stadium of Light.

In their absence much is now expected of young loanees Amad Diallo and Joe Gelhardt, yet it's interesting that in spite of perceived deficiencies up front the Black Cats haven't failed to find the net since before the World Cup.

On the flip side they have only kept clean sheets in four of their last 20 matches which would certainly encourage a bet on both teams to score at 5/6

Fortress Turf Moor will take some breaching

Selection headaches are thin on the ground for Kompany, who has built a squad with Premier League potential and could be boosted by having England one-cap wonder Jay Rodriguez available after a couple of months out.

Not that he has been missed from a squad full of goals, with Burnley the league's top scorers on a remarkable 74.

They have scored in every game at Turf Moor this term and won 15 of their last 16 matches in front of their own supporters.

Nathan Tella, the loanee from Southampton who many Saints' fans wonder why then boss Ralph Hasenhuttl let go, tops the scoring charts with 17 including five in his last two Championship starts.

Tella is 4/1 to score first, 11/8 to score any time, though as one of 19 different players to find the net for Burnley in league action this term, there are plenty of options from the home ranks for first, last or any time scorer punters.

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