A game that matters more to our opponents than it does to us it’s fair to say. Whilst some of our players might be playing for a place in next year’s thinking and others for a new contract, collectively there’s not a whole lot to be achieved unless it’s to get some pride back in themselves and/or to allow us as spectators some as well.
To end the season limply caving in to all and sundry seems perfectly possible given the display at Anfield and the general atmosphere around the club and the manager (did anyone else think ‘that’s been coming’ when the punch rumours started last week?) despite the fact that it’s many years since we finished above Manchester United and probably many more still since we ended the season with the best away record in the division. Both are still possible as is the poisoned chalice that is qualification for the Europa League. That the latter is in doubt shows how far we’ve fallen from the heady days of summer and the signing of Garth Crooks’s Beatles. Plans for a European stadium tour have been downsized to maybe a visit to the Vilnius Alhambra.
Team news is apparently that Vertonghen and Soldado are definitely out whilst Badebayor and Chiriches are back. Assuming that Kaboul is fit once more (did I mention new contracts?) it’ll be interesting to see who gets the nod at centre back. Dawson is even worse on the left side of the middle pairing than he is on the right so one would hope that Chiriches will play alongside Rose. In the absence of alternatives Kyle Naughton will continue on the right. Chadli, Eriksen, Adebayor, Bentaleb, Dembele and Lennon would be my unexciting prediction for the front six though Townsend must be champing at the bit given that Brazil is edging ever closer and once would hope he’s trying to put himself forward with some dazzling dribbling, step-overs and diving in training.
Sunderland initially picked up when Poyet took over from Di Canio but have struggled of late and are probable favourites to take the plunge with Cardiff and Fulham. Adam Johnson is by far their biggest threat and he’ll be seeking help from the likes of Borini, Wickham and Altidore. At the back old heads Brown, Bardsley and O’Shea will be trying to avoid being dazzled by our sparkling forward line.
It should be a good game. Sunderland have games in hand on those above them but also have a tough run of fixtures and would like a win in this one. I’m sure they’ll be thinking that our minds aren’t fully on the job in hand. Lee Mason is down to referee. COYS.
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