Mark Lawrenson predicts Sunderland v Aston Villa, discusses Lamine Kone deal

Mark Lawrenson believes Sunderland will beat Aston Villa 2-0 today.

Pundit Mark Lawrenson has told BBC Sport that he thinks Sunderland will beat Aston Villa this afternoon - but believes the game 'could be ugly'.

Sunderland head in to the game having lost their last give games in a row, including the 1-0 defeat to Liverpool on Wednesday night.

The Black Cats looked to be heading in the right direction under Sam Allardyce when they beat Crystal Palace and Stoke City at the end of November, but five defeats from five games in December, Sunderland now lie seven points away from safety.

Today, Sunderland host fellow strugglers Aston Villa, though Remi Garde's men are in an even more precarious position than the Black Cats.

Villa have still won only one game this season, and that game all the way back on the opening day of the season, with Villa rooted to the bottom of the table on just eight points from 19 games.

They need a win soon if they are to have any chance of staying up, but pundit Mark Lawrenson has told BBC Sport that he thinks Villa are already down, and thinks Sunderland will win 2-0.

He also believes that Sam Allardyce is making a sound move by swooping for Lorient centre back Lamine Kone, as reported by Sky Sports, with Lawrenson highlighting Sunderland's defence as the biggest area of concern.

"This could be ugly," said Lawrenson. "Whatever happens in this game is not going to change Aston Villa's fate - they will be out with the empties at the end of the season."

"Sunderland are still fighting for survival though - the danger for them is that they always look like conceding. Goalkeeper Vito Mannone was arguably their man of the match against Liverpool. There is nothing wrong with that in itself - but when it is every week, that is a problem."

"That is Sam Allardyce's biggest problem and he looks like he is working to sort it out already with a fee agreed for Lorient centre-back Lamine Kone. Sunderland have decent strikers in Jermain Defoe, Fabio Borini and Duncan Watmore. If they can shore things up at the back, they will keep themselves in matches, buying time for one of those lot to win it for them," he added.

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