Charlton welcome Sunderland to The Valley this Saturday in front of what will surely be the biggest crowd of the season.

With Sunderland’s away allocation almost sold out the atmosphere is sure to be electric, but what can we expect from the travelling side?

A lot of football has been played since Sunderland’s 2-1 comeback win over Charlton in the opening game of the season. A lot of good football too.

A late Lynden Gooch goal separated the sides that day but Charlton have seen their season blossom the longer it’s gone on.

Looking Up

Jack Ross’s side sit four points ahead of Lee Bowyers men in third place, but crucially have two games in hand.

Securing wins in those two fixtures would see The Black Cats go one point behind league leaders Portsmouth who they lost to 3-1 just before Christmas.

Despite having won two and drawn one of their last three, Ross’ men have not been firing, scoring more than one goal in a game just once in their last six outings.

With the second best defensive record in the division, the return of experienced centre-back Glenn Loovens from suspension will be a huge boost for the Mackems.

Charlton’s ‘Head to Head’ with Sunderland:

PL:56 W:28 D:20 L:27

Sunderland (League) form guide:

PL:24 W:14 D:8 L:2

Last six results: WWLWDW


Josh Maja is a product of the Academy of Light and he has carried the torch for Sunderland this season.

Leading the line, the 20-year-old has shone in his first full season as a first team member.

Scoring 14 goals, one off the league’s top scorer, Maja has attracted interest from both Premiership and Championship sides, Tottenham and Chelsea are rumoured suitors.

He is under contract in the North East until the summer and Sunderland are eager to tie him down long-term such has been the impact of the youngster.

Of the youngster his manager said before he celebrated his birthday a few days ago: “At 19 years old he is so well regarded in the game because he has that attribute which is very difficult to teach - the natural ability to shift the ball.”

Maja, though, is not the finished article and his manger knows that. The general census among the coaching staff at Sunderland is that he does waste the odd chance, and that is what they are trying to eek out of his game, because if they do they’ll have a superstar in red and white.

For those who have watched the very watchable ‘Sunderland ‘til I die’ documentary, (mainly for the laugh out loud moment where Ibrahimović was touted as a potential target), you will also know that the striking department was a worry for the club. But in Josh Maja those worries have been eased considerably such has been his emergence.

A mention should also go to 23-year-old Lynden Gooch who sits fourth in the league’s assist chart.


Jack Ross’ arrival in the summer came with little fanfare, mainly because there was little known about the St Mirren manager.

Since his arrival however he has steadied the ship, dealing with countless departures he's tailored a side geared towards promotion.

Speaking ahead of his side’s trip to The Valley, Ross was full of praise for his opponents:

“I always thought they would have a good season.

“From the very first game I believed they would be a team that would in and around us and where we want to be.

“They’ve shown that and have been strong, particularly at home. It’s as tough a test you’ll get but we’re looking forward to it.”

Opening Game Momentum

Speaking of their first meeting back in August, Ross admitted the result was a key moment of their season, helping them build the momentum they needed to push for the summit of the league.

“I think on that day Lee [Bowyer] would have had a good argument to say they were unfortunate to lose that game.

“I thought they were good first half and we were very good second half.

“That moment it felt on reflection appropriate for us to win in that manner and it was a fair reflection of all the hard work that went in over the summer.

“We put in a lot of work building up to that game and Lynden’s goal helped us get rewards for it and continue to move forward.”

Cattermole Missing

Sunderland will be without influential midfielder Lee Cattermole for Saturday’s game through suspension. Of the absence Ross said:

“Every squad will be stretched in this league unless you’re incredibly fortunate.

“We are stretched at the moment and certainly timing-wise we could do without it because he’s been very good for me this season.”

Kick off is at 3pm.