Filed: Saturday, 4th December 2010
By: Preview Percy
Preview Percy was supposed to be going up to the North East this weekend but the weather stopped him from travelling. This meant he had time to do a match preview. There's never a council gritter about when you need one is there.....
Next up we have our second trip of the season up to Wearside for a 4pm Sunday afternoon kick-off at the Stadium of Light where Sunderland will be our hosts.
They currently lie in 9th place with 20 points from their 15 matches thus far. The compressed nature of the league means that this is a mere 8 points ahead of ourselves. Weird huh? Their last six matches have prduced the most mixed of bags, with them having won 2, drawn 2 and lost 2. When I say “mixed bag” I'm not kidding – their last three matches include a 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge and a 3-2 defeat at Molineux – the Wolves defeat coming as they led 2-1 with not very long left to play, the winner at the death ultimately keeping us in bottom spot despite our win over Wigan. Interestingly, they are the only team outside Salford to be unbeaten at home, having won 3 and drawn 4 of the 7 played at the SOL.
Only two of the three ex-Hammers will be about for this one. George “Linda” McCartney, whilst still officially a Sunderland player, has been shipped out on loan to Leeds United where, hopefully, he is counting his fingers if he's had the misfortune to shake hands with Ken Bates. Both the other two ex-Hammers in the host squad played in last week's defeat. Anton Ferdinand lined up in the centre of defence alongside John Mensah who played with his shoulder strapped up in the absence of Titus Bramble and Londoner Michael Turner. Kieron Richardson, a former Carr Kid, played on the left side of midfield, though he has, on occasion, moved back into defence on the left.
Now here's a funny thing. A couple of weeks back I was having a football-related chat with a couple of Sunderland-supporting acquaintances of mine in my local hostelry. They were bemoaning the lack of goals coming from the likes of Ghanaian Gyan and loan signing Welbeck. Since that conversation, both players were on target in the win over Chelsea whilst Welbeck notched a brace in the 2-2 draw at Everton and was also on target in the defeat at Wolves. I wonder if Spector was the subject of any conversation the other night?
As well as the aforementioned Bramble and Turner, who are injured, the home side will also be without the chubby figure of Andy Reid. Reid has a habit of scoring against us, something he did with a free kick in the corresponding fixture last season. However, like Linda, he's been moved out to Yorkshire where he is lending weight to Sheffield United's fight against relegation. That's the same Sheffield United that, but for us, would crrently be in the knockout stages of the Champions League, allegedly.
Irishman David Meyler will be on the bench for this one according to some reports. Not particularly newsworthy one might think until you consider that the Corkman did serious damage to his knee ligaments in May this year. He was looking at a year or so out according to the medics but apparently spent every waking hour – and a few sleeping ones as well – pounding the treadmills and swimming pools to the effect that six months after his encounter with Patrice Evra he was back playing for the reserves.
Of course the current golden boy in red & white stripes is 20 year old midfielder Jordan Henderson. Henderson made his full international debut for England in the rather poor display against the French a few weeks ago, spending much of the match watching the French keep the ball and the English defence giving it back to them. It could have been worse of course. Capello could have selected Scott Parker, who would, of course, have been injured. Presumably in training for the match. Whether Henderson remains part of the squad for more meaningful matches remains to be seen – certain clubs' injury lists tend to vary in length in direct proportion to whether or not the international match concerned is a friendly. However he is rated as prospect enough for bigger clubs to be sniffing around.
“Come on”, I hear you say, “Surely you have a word or two to say about us?” Well it was a bit disappointing the other night wasn't it. I mean only 4-0 when a referee worth his salt would have given the penalty for the foul on Hines that would have made it five! Not good enough!
There will be a lot of confidence in the squad for obvious reasons. There will also be a few selection issues, not least in midfield where Jonny “who'd have thought” Spector must come into contention for a starting place whilst up front Carlton “Two Goals” Cole will be looking for a start alongside Victor Obinna, who will be looking to continue an impressive run of form.
I have no idea who the boss will select – my own preference would be to replace Faubert with Jacobsen and bring in Parker for Kovac in the middle. And, yes, I'd let Spector start – it would be a shame to waste such sky high confidence. There again what do I know – I said we'd win 2-1 on Tuesday.
Prediction? This will be a tougher test than Tuesday's. Obviously. However, we will have the boost of having gone up a place in the league following Wolves' 3-0 defeat at Blackburn to add to the mood. We are also profiting from Wally Downes' influence on proceedings – there are lots of positive noises coming out of the club about his contribution to the recent wins. So, at the risk of going all panglossian on you all, I'm going for a 2-0 win to push us up that little bit closer to safety.
Enjoy the game - & keep warm!
Last season: Drew 2-2 Went 2-0 up, opposition down to ten men, what could go wrong? Story of last season in a nutshell.
Danger Man: Danny Welbeck – four goals in his last three suggests someone in a bit of form.
Referee: Martin Atkinson – last seen by us in the 1-0 win over Spurs. A good omen?
Daft fact of the week: The first outbreak of cholera in the UK took place in Sunderland in 1831. What more excuse do you need to stick to the beer up there?!
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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