This weekend we go to Sunderland, a club who moved a few years ago and are now in a stadium they struggle to fill regularly. Attendances are generally 8-10 thousand down on capacity even without a running track. Take note anyone recently given custody of a white elephant.
They still get decent crowds of course and so they should given the league season theyâ€™ve been having. Some excellent results have been mixed with the odd stinker but mostly theyâ€™ve been solid & unspectacular. They currently lie seventh, seven points behind us but have played a game more.
Despite a recent drop in form by the home team, roughly coinciding with the loss of Bent and the injury to Wellbeck, and a couple of good wins for us, this is far from a straightforward game. Few are in the Premier League of course as Man Utd found out only last week. Gyan, Zenden and Richardson all have records of doing well against us and no doubt new loan signing Sulley Muntari will want to make a good impression on former boss Redknapp. â€œQuality player, lovely ladâ€, you can hear it now.
Lee Cattermole and Michael Turner are probably out which wonâ€™t help them defensively. Ferdinand and Brambleâ€™s reputations go before them, but Mensah, Onouha and Bardsley are all quality, as is the keeper.
Weâ€™ve not done well up there for a long while, our last win was in 2001 when Ziege and Sheringham scored in a 2-1 victory. Last season Gomes won the battle of the penalties against England hero Bent, but we still got gubbed 3-1.
Despite targeting this game for his comeback it seems that we may well be without Bale once more. Cases can be made for Kranjcar or Pienaar in his place but Harryâ€™s currently favouring the switchover to the left of Lennon which has met with a modicum of success but does leave us very lopsided if Van der Vaart is given the wanderinâ€™ minstrel role. Iâ€™d really like a solid, keep possession type start to this game just to get the crowd on their backs, etc but I suspect a high tempo rush for the jugular will be Redknappâ€™s response to the absence of so many key men. Such is the nature of the character & belief of the squad that itâ€™s hard to argue against this policy.
We have seven away games left including visits to Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool, the three clubs weâ€™re likely to be in competition with for fourth place the way things are going at present so, justifiably, weâ€™ll be getting a lot more expectation setting from Harry in the next few weeks. A good result here though and whoâ€™ll listen to him? COYS.
Have something to tell us about this article?