The Stadium of Light, there’s a misnomer. Anyone who has had the misfortune to travel to Sunderland away knows the drab, watery light that emanates from the cold North Sea and washes over the industrial wasteland that is Sunderland. They will also know how we struggled at TSOL last season, despite having 90% of the possession we got beaten by a late Darren Bent goal (plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose).
We go into our 5th game of the season with a tidy haul of points, all of which have been taken from Northern opponents, and it would be excellent if we could garner another 3 today. However Sunderland have a fine home record (one defeat in 12) and we will have to be at the top of our game to win.
Gyan appears to be a fine signing and alongside a rejuvenated Darren Bent (saved by Steve Bruce from the N17 hellhole), they will present a menace upfront. Our defenders must be fully concentrated as it should be noted that we have conceded in every one of our last 9 away games. We cannot rely on our ability to score more than the opposition – a few clean sheets away from home are essential.
We go into this game in superb form, as good as we have seen since last autumn when we smashed Porto etc. Sunderland will be worried particularly as they will be missing their midfield enforcer, Lee Cattermole (how could anyone seriously suggest we need a man like him), and possibly John Mensah. Cattermole is a perfect example of a talented and skilful player who has been given a poor football education, his disciplinary record is appalling. A CB pairing of Titus Bramble and Anton Ferdinand ought to bring a smile to the face of our nippy attackers, both are good defenders but susceptible to ingenuity and pace. Steve Bruce has become a fine manager and I expect him to get the best out of his players today. His stated respect for Wenger is a refreshing change from the vitriol of most British managers and does him much credit – does he fancy the job as AW’s replacement in 2014 (not my ideal choice!)?
With the team playing so well it would be tempting to play the same players as Wednesday, but I would give Wilshere a break. I would include Eboue because he is harder than Nasri and we may need some physicality today.
There is very little to tell about the “City” of Sunderland (I thought cities had to have a Cathedral).Founded in 1974 during on of those ridiculous boundary changes which brought 4 “Hovis” towns together, Sunderland boasts it is the birthplace of Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics and that Sid James died there. Oh, and my friend Julien’s father used to be Mayor.
Can we win? Yes. Will we win? Why not?