Sunderland manager Gus Poyet has enjoyed a charmed record in cup competitions throughout his career and that’s unlikely to change against Leeds.
Poyet’s side are 57/100 to eliminate the Whites, with the Yorkshiremen 17/4 underdogs for victory and a draw which would drag the hosts back to Elland Road’s inhospitable environs.
The unlikely run to the Capital One Cup final during the Sunderland boss’ first season in charge on Wearside may be freshest in the memory, but at Brighton too he was able to eke heroics from his charges.
In reaching the League Cup final, where the Black Cats even led going into the break against Manchester City, they eliminated in-form lower league sides MK Dons and Peterborough, Southampton Chelsea and Manchester United.
Stamford Bridge’s finest were bounced in extra time, while United were bested on penalties, seemingly illustrating the powers of Poyet’s motivational gifts upon his players.
At Brighton he took three Premier League scalps in his last two campaigns on the south coast, twice embarrassing Newcastle in the FA Cup and knocking his current employers out of the Capital One Cup to boot.
However, the former Real Zaragoza, Chelsea, Tottenham midfielder was just as blessed when it came to playing in knockout competitions himself.
In total he won seven cups or one-off game competitions during his career: two Cup Winners’ Cups, a Copa del Rey, an FA Cup, a UEFA Super Cup, a Charity Shield and a Copa America.
Standing in the way of the beginnings of what could be another enthralling campaign are Leeds, a side who have lost nine of their 13 away games this season.
Any chances of clemency in terms of the hosts’ team selection have been debunked by Poyet, who told safc.com:
“I really believe that the cup competitions can be a springboard because everything comes together,” explained Poyet. “If you have confidence because you’re doing well in the cup but you’re not in the league, or the opposite way around, it can affect the other.
“It helps you build performances and consistency so with the cup being in the middle of the month we need to use it that way.”