Sunderland's upcoming match with Manchester United may well be won in the midfield area and, if that is to be the case, then the performances of Lee Cattermole and Daley Blind will be pivotal to their respective side's chances.
Cattermole and Blind are their teams' midfield anchors. On the pitch to get in amongst the opposition's players, they also have a responsibility to kick-start their own teams' attacks and enable them to set the tempo of the match.
The pair are amongst the two best in their demanding positions across the Premier League and on Saturday they will come head to head.
Cattermole's importance to Sunderland has been highlighted during his time on the sidelines, but now he is fit again it will be a welcome relief for the club to see him back in the starting line-up.
The 26-year-old has previously been criticised for his lack of temperament, but he is a player who Gus Poyet appears to have got the best out of and his performances now make him the main man at Sunderland.
Putting himself in direct competition with Blind, who has been one of United's star players this campaign, will be a tough test, but there are areas where Cattermole seems to have a slight edge.
|Team||Defensive duels won per game||Tackles per game||Headers won per game||Interceptions per game||Passes per game||Passing Accuracy||Appearances||Mins Played|
|Daley Blind||Man Utd||4.78||2.28||1.85||3.64||62.78||89.19%||14||1209|
The English midfielder makes more tackles and wins more defensive duels per game than Blind, but it is technically where the United man shows his class.
Blind has just over an 89% pass accuracy rate, whilst he is also is a master at reading the game, with his interceptions particularly high.
If Sunderland are to get anything from the contest they will need to ensure that they bypass Blind in the middle of the pitch, but doing so is easier said than done.
Blind has been central to United's overall performances when he has been on the pitch and if he continues to keep up his high standards it will give them a solid platform to build upon against Sunderland.