Sunderland at home last season was the first chance White Hart Lane got to see in person that perhaps the Ramos Revolution wasnâ€™t quite going as well as hoped. A Richardson punt from range and a header from an unmarked Cisse were met with a sole reply from Jenas, a Jenas started that game in front of the back four but finished it effectively up front as we chased an equaliser. Berbatov was at home feeding the pigeons and with a week to go in the transfer window it suddenly became clear that Darren Bent was going to get what he wanted, i.e. to be first choice striker and play every game.
Fifteen months later Bent will play in the equivalent fixture but for the away side. His impressive start to the season wonâ€™t surprise a lot of Spurs fans, heâ€™s been taking chances with the same assurance that he did for us for a long period last season, but despite finishing top scorer and scoring at the new Library, Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford he never somehow did enough to cement a place as number one in either Harryâ€™s or the fanâ€™s books. He was unlucky in that comparisons with Berbatov were inevitable but the impression he often gave that there was more to come if only heâ€™d put the effort in was all his own work.
Itâ€™s inevitable heâ€™ll score and our inability to keep any defenders fit for more than five minutes will only help him. Bassong is definitely out, Woodgate may be fit, Corluka is rumoured to be out and Ledley, as ever, is a last minute decision. If King does play then the absence of Bassong will mean at least that he plays on the left, he looks so much more comfortable on that side. If Corluka doesnâ€™t make it then presumably Hutton will step in. The Scot will provide the width and pace that Bentley doesnâ€™t if the latter is given another chance to replace Lennon. If he plays like he did last week, it might be his last.
On the left youâ€™ve got to hope that Krancjar or Bale are given opportunities ahead of the Jenas/Huddlestone/Palacios experiment that was so devoid of balance, width and creativity last Saturday. Big Tom may well make way, but in the grand scheme of things it may not be for long with Jenas on four yellows and Palacios on three. We have another inexperienced referee in K Friend of Leicestershire who, from what I can tell, only made his Premier League debut this season. His records suggests that heâ€™s not shy of chucking cards around.
Up front, Defoe will be back to partner Keane and given that weâ€™ve been goalless in the last couple of league games heâ€™s been badly missed, particularly last week where we were so short of pace. He owes us a goal or two. Or three. The pressure is on after only one win in four games. The last two defeats have been real bastards but at least none of our main rivals on paper for the coveted fifth or sixth spot, Villa, City or Everton, have taken anything like full advantage and of course the longer it takes for Liverpool to get going, the more the opportunity to snatch fourth place becomes a serious possibility
As well as Bent, old boys Andy Reid, Steed Malbranque and Fraizer Campbell may all feature in a confident Sunderland team that are only two points behind us. Theyâ€™re all decent players, but even in our injury hit state, would anyone of them get into our team? Our players have the chance to put last week behind them and back up their top four/strong squad/World Cup bluster with an emphatic win. Anything else would be a disappointment.
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