Saturday 7th December, Stadium of Light, 17:30 live on Sky Sports
You can sense it. The vultures are circling. The media cannot wait for it to happen. The vast majority of the football family want us to lose a game to see what happens at our club. Hell, even some of our own support would like to see us lose a couple if it meant AVB was kicked out.
56 minutes into the game on Wednesday night and the journo’s had what they wanted. We were behind and they could frantically write how AVB must be on his last legs in the eyes of the board. Vlad and Lewis save the day but they would not have deleted the texts they wrote, simply changed the date to this Saturday in the hope that it happens then.
Every game is being portrayed as a cup final, this increases the tension in the stands which will then rub off on the players. It is probably a blessing in disguise that these games against teams at the foot of the table are away from the Lane.
The media, in most cases, have been overly harsh on and pretty much against us this season. Whether it be the Yid debate, the atmosphere, AVB bashing or the new reports about Spurs banning the 1882 movement from games. Most have been to turn the tide of affection against the club from the neutrals. Surely they realise that we are not playing entertaining football at the moment, the neutrals don’t need any help turning away.
Is it a must win game? No, we are only three points off fourth and six off second – hardly a must win scenario. We were never title contenders, that was opposition managers trying to put pressure on us and you could argue it worked. Another point, if it wasn’t Woolwich sat top of the tree would our current predicament be portrayed as badly? I honestly do not think so.
My Opposition opinion
After the fireworks of Di Canio we now have the slightly less extravagant Poyet. It is good to see that Poyet was not too adversely affected by the Ramos stint at Spurs but I am sure we would all want his miraculous saving of Sunderland to wait another week.
The Chelski game during the week showed us that Sunderland will not simply fall over in front of us. So we shouldn’t expect free flowing football, Poyet will know that is how we want to play and will do anything and everything the prevent us playing our way. In your face pressing is what to expect when we have possession but when we don’t then Poyet will want his team to play the ball around rather than lump it forward.
Can Sunderland, currently sitting bottom of the table with 8 points, afford the luxury of playing football? We’ll have to wait and see. It is the holy grail of football at the moment, some would deem it more important than winning but I am sure Sunderland fans do not agree with this.
In Brown and O’Shea they have a Utd bread defensive partnership but you know both are prone to the odd major mistake, much like our own Dawson and Walker. Attacking wise you have the likes of Altidore as a bulldozer, Fletcher as an all rounder and Borini as the threat in behind.
Sunderland have a decent squad, much better than their league position currently leads you to believe. Having said that, at the beginning of the season I did put Altidore as my ‘WTF were they thinking?’ transfer, perhaps someone will enlighten me as to whether I was wrong…
Expected line up
It looks like this game is too early for Rose to return so he will join Eriksen as a definite no show. There are doubts over Dembele due to the hip complaint that kept him out of the Fulham game and Vertonghen who turned his ankle towards the end of the midweek game. I personally think Dembele will make the game given his midweek rest and AVB would want his midfield trio as it was against Utd so I have gone for:
Subs: Friedel, Kaboul, Fryers, Capoue, Holtby, Townsend, Adebayor
I think Vertonghen may miss this game and given his recent less than great performances at left back, it may not be a bad thing. I know he doesn’t want to play left back but he had some very good games there last season so it strikes me as a little bit petulant with his ongoing outbursts at being a centre back. So I think Naughton will come in. Chiriches could play there with Kaboul coming in but I think AVB is still stung by the Dawson/Kaboul partnership used at City. I would prefer Fryers as we need to see if he has what it takes but I don’t think AVB will do this.
The midfield central trio would be as the game against Utd, this is despite Paulinho really needing a break. Holtby could come in and play as the number 10 given his performance midweek but I think AVB wants the Utd trio given the positive feedback from that game.
The wings I would keep with Lennon and Lamela. Lennon has provided some directness (when on the right) that was lacking with Townsend – not because Townsend was not direct but because Lennon will go outside more frequently, stretching the defence. If only he could put a decent ball in more often. Lamela needs game time and a run in the team.
Up front will be back to Soldado for me. Just really think Defoe is dead in this formation, AVB has teased that both could play but I don’t think that will work. Would be Ade and one of the other two…
It is going to be tough but I am going for a 2-1 win again. Sunderland to take to lead so that the media can get excited but another fight back from Spurs.
So what do you think? Defoe to keep his place? Siggy back in on the wings? What is your line up and predicted score?
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