Sunderland will either be celebrating with tears of joy or wallowing in tears of sadness by the end of the day as they face the daunting prospect of a play-off final.
Alex Neil’s men made their way through to the decider by beating Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals, drawing the second leg 1-1.
Will the Black Cats boss make any changes to his starting XI from that match? We are suggesting that he makes at least one by unleashing Jay Matete from the start, as he can win promotion for the club.
Will Sunderland beat Wycombe?
Matete must start for Sunderland
Corry Evans struggled in the middle of the park against Wednesday, and his experience may be of more use off the bench if Neil needs to bring on a calm head to see out the game in the second half.
Against the Owls, the ex-Blackburn man failed to impress. As per SofaScore, he lost five of his seven individual battles and was unsuccessful in two of his three tackles as he was dribbled past twice. He also completed just 69% of his passes – including one of his seven long passes – and did not create a single chance.
Meanwhile, Matete is a machine in midfield and will be able to slot into the team and break up Wycombe’s play throughout the match. In League One this season, he has made three tackles and interceptions per game and won 58% of his duels in total, showing that he is a strong presence in the team.
Journalist Josh Bunting previously heaped praise on him, tweeting: “Jay Matete again for me Sunderland’s best performer this afternoon, broke the play up when he needed to and drove forward trying to get the Black Cats on the front foot, he’s been a real master stroke of a signing, that run that he got the shot away from was superb #SAFC”
These quotes, and the aforementioned statistics, show that Kristjaan Speakman played a blinder by bringing the 21-year-old in from Fleetwood in January.
That deal can now win Sunderland promotion, as starting him at Wembley today can seal the win for the Black Cats against Gareth Ainsworth’s outfit.
Matete has shown that he has the bite required to compete in big games, and Neil will need that drive and strength to break up Wycombe attacks before attacking the space and allowing his side to dominate the game, which is why the youngster’s presence could make the difference today.