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Sunderland Preview

Filed: Friday, 30th October 2009
By: Preview Percy

Preview Pecy took time out from packing for the long trek North to have a look at this weekend's opponents....

Next we make our one and, subject to Cup draws, probably only visit to the North East for a 3pm Saturday kick-off at the Stadium Of Light against Sunderland.

Our opponents this week currently lie in 8th place with 16 points from their ten games, having won five and drawn one. At home they’ve won four of their five, the one defeat coming at home to Chelsea where even noted miserable git Steve Bruce was forced to admit that they’d been outplayed, despite their having taken the lead early on. Their most recent outing came against Villa in the League Cup, where the match finished deadlocked after 120 minutes with Villa going through 3-1 on penalties. Their last league outing was a 2-1 defeat at Birmingham last weekend after which Bruce reverted to his usual grumpy self, moaning darkly about the treatment he’d got from the (now outgoing) management when he relinquished the manager role at St Andrews.

Wearside was a veritable hive of activity during the window as the new boss sought to build his own side. No fewer than fourteen players left for pastures new. In came defenders Da Silva, Turner, and Mensah, midfielders Cana and Cattermole and strikers Campbell and Bent. Of these Bent has probably had the biggest impact. He seems to be regaining some of the accuracy he displayed a few years ago when he received a formal warning for shooting a 12 year-old with a pellet gun. Such marksmanship seemed to have deserted him at Spurs where one missed chance was described as being so easy that Mrs Redknapp could have scored it. Bent’s transfer was hilariously protracted with his frustration being made public via something called twitter, which I believe is some sort of communications thing used by the younger generation these days. Bent currently has 8 goals from his ten matches this season, though to be fair the dubious goals panel might think about reallocating his goal against the Scousers as “Beach Ball og”.

Bruce raided his old club Wigan to sign midfielder Cattermole. However a knee injury picked up against Liverpool will keep him out for a good couple of months. The “hard man in midfield” duties will therefore be handled by Albanian international Lorik Cana. Cana came in from Olympique Marseille and was handed the captain’s armband. Through the increasingly labyrinthine rules applicable to eligibility, Cana elected to play his international football for Albania though he also holds French and Swiss passports, which almost certainly would have made him eligible to play for the Republic of Ireland had only they thought of it first.

There’s a trio of ex-Hammers in the squad of course with Kieran Richardson, “Linda” McCartney and, if he remembers there’s a game on, Anton Ferdinand. McCartney’s transfer back up North could well end up costing us a few bob as the transfer that led to the departure of Alan Curbishley, whose case for constructive dismissal is currently the subject of legal proceedings. Linda didn’t make the starting line-up against Birmingham and may have to be content with squad membership this weekend.

Alongside Bent up front they tend to go with Kenwyne Jones. The former Southampton player scared the pants off our defence at the Boleyn a year or two ago. However, in the few matches we’ve played against them since he has been a lot quieter. He remains a threat though, and, given the rather fragile nature of our back four of late it’s possible that he could cause problems unless Upson and Tomkins remain a bit more alert than they have been in recent weeks.

So what of us? Well it was a bit Jekyll & Hyde last week wasn’t it - especially in defence where Green had the proverbial game of two halves. Having said that, it appeared to me that the worst period of the match came between their second and our first. Up to their second goal we hadn’t been playing all that badly but the second seemed to suck all the confidence out of the side. The confidence returned with Cole’s header and the point was, ultimately, well-deserved. Parker’s ludicrous dismissal will unfortunately rob us of a major influence in the middle – Kovac just doesn’t inspire the same confidence I’m afraid. It’s to be hoped that the memory of the fightback will stick with the team and heads will be slower to go down in future whenever we go a goal down.

On the injury front at least there appears to be no fresh worries – physioroom.com continues its running gag that Kieron Dyer will be available for the third week running. Yeah right.

There are going to be some interesting battles at both ends between attack and defence in this one. Upson and Tomkins against Jones and Bent is going to be key in our defence whilst up the other end Cole – and possibly Franco – against Ferdinand and Turner will be interesting. Cole was outstanding last weekend and the prospect of seeing him up against Ferdinand, who, as my Mum would put it, is often “away with the fairies”, is a mouthwatering one.

Predictions? Well we have to counter the improvement in confidence gained from last weekend against the fact that their home form is quite useful and, in Bent, they have a striker who is going through a bit of a purple patch. Cattermole will be a big loss for them however. The optimist in me can see us nicking a win in this one but the parallels between the sides – strikers in form, missing influential midfielders – suggests that a draw will be more likely so I’ll go for a 2-2 draw in this one.

Enjoy the game!

Last season: Won 1-0. “Pep” Behrami’s first goal for the club gave us all three points - he should have added a second with an effort that hit the bar from five yards.

Danger Man: Darren Bent. I still don’t see why Spurs thought him worth £17m but he is in a hot streak of form at the moment so the defence will have to be at its most vigilant.

Referee: Andre Marriner. Took charge of the corresponding fixture two seasons ago when they nicked a late winner in the 7th minute of the five added on for stoppage.

Look out for: A beach ball – scored a cracking winner against Liverpool though I personally thought the ball was offside at the time the other ball was played.

A word from our sponsors

As ridiculous as it sounds a draw can be as good as a win and the 2-2 draw last weekend against Arsenal will surely see West Ham’s season splutter into life. However Sunderland have won 4 out of 5 at home this season and the Hammers have only won 1 from their 5 away fixtures. What’s more there are only 4 goals to speak of in those 5 games with Sunderland netting 13 in theirs. Up against it?

extrabet.com go 3/1 about the West Ham win against the 5/2 about the draw and 5/6 the home win you’d have thought the prices look spot on. However West Ham have won 2, drawn 1 and lost 1 in the last 4 fixtures at the Stadium of Light and Sunderland haven’t won for 4 games now. Chances?

Also note that West Ham games have seen winners of the Over 2.5 goals market (ie: 3 goals or more) in all of the last 6 fixtures. The price this week is 5/6 with 10/11 the 2 goals or Under. On the spreads at extrabet.com the Time of the 1st Goal is 36-39 minutes. Sell if you think there’ll be an early one …

If you’d like a quote from me … “As one punter said to me. ‘That West Ham money’s just on loan to you. This week we get our payback’”.
- Chris Shillington, extrabet.com

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.

Your Comments

by Tell it how it is Charley
06:33PM 30th Oct 2009
''Dyer is a joke, you would have thought that there would be clauses in the contract about acceptable fitness levels. It looks to me as though Dyer should retire he will not because he'll probably lose so many £m.

& Ashton, surely when you sign such a lucrative contract as he did he should have under gone a strict medical? I would have thought a tough medical would have highlighted major problems still with the ankle.''

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