On the telly for the second time in two weeks? It's almost like we're an interesting watch! SAFC take on Tottenham Hotspur this weekend live on ESPN, and it could be a turning point for our boys as we look to keep ourselves in the fight for a Europa League spot...
SAFC Team News
There's certainly going to be changes made from the defeat against Stoke City last weekend, and those that do retain their places will have been given a right rocket up the arse after some sloppy defending.
In goal, Craig Gordon withdrew from the Scotland squad this midweek through injury, but that we're lead to believe that was merely the type of injury top players get when there's a meaningless international friendly in the week, i.e. nothing wrong at all, and he should start.
Across the back, look for Steve Bruce to shuffle the pack again, and abandon the three centre-back system employed at the Britannia. John Mensah played nearly an hour for Ghana in the week, and wasn't at his best, where as Titus Bramble and Anton Ferdinand are fully rested. I'd expect those two to start, with The (c)Rock missing out.
Nedum Onouha, who recently admitted he'd love to stay with us will start at right-back, and Scotland's Man Of The Match this midweek, Phil Bardsley will start on the left-hand side.
Across midfield, we're back to a five rather than three. Certain to start in the middle are Jordan Henderson, who has the benefit of a weeks rest having like Gordon, pulled out of international duty, alongside someone who actually did play this midweek; Sulley Muntari, who had an excellent 80 minutes against Togo.
Infront of those twe 'sitting' midfielders will be constantly improving and impressive Stephane Sessegnon, and goal machine, Kieran Richardson. The other spot is up for grabs really, with Malbranque and Elmohamady the main contenders, Bolo Zenden having an outside chance. I'd go with Elmohamady to help counteract Gareth Bale's marauding runs down the left.
Up front, Asamoah Gyan, another man rested midweek, will start up front alone. Fraizer Campbell returned to training this week, but is nowhere near a return. He'll be crucial down the stretch though.
Bruce's Probable Team:
Gordon; Onouha, Ferdinand, Bramble, Bardsley; Henderson, Muntari, Sessegnon, Richardson, Elmohamady; Gyan
Gordon; Onouha, Ferdinand, Bramble, Bardsley; Malbranque, Muntari, Sessegnon, Richardson, Henderson; Gyan
From the Spurs side
'Appy 'Arry is a difficult one to predict when it comes to line-ups and systems, so I'll try my best here!
From the team that started against Bolton, I think Alan Hutton will come in at the expense of Corluka at right-back. We know all about Hutton from his time at our club last season, so we know he's pretty darn good going forward. Hutton against Bardo should be an interesting battle, since Bardo's the one we kept, and Hutts the one we couldn't/wouldn't pay for.
In midfield and attack, I think if we can eliminate Van Der Vaart through either Muntari or someone else, we have an excellent chance. I'm not worried by any combination of Spurs' strikers, but I am worried about the supply to them. Obviously he's a great player though, and this is much easier said than done, but if we can cut him off, I think Spurs could be there for the taking.
As stated previously, this a massive game if we want to keep up with the pack chasing a Europa League spot. After two straight defeats, it's absolutely imperative that we get all three points, and while I think we've got a chance, this is Sunderland, so never expect anything.
I'm plumping for a 2-2 draw. Gyan & Richardson to keep scoring, Van Der Vaart and Crouch for the visitors, leaving us scratching our heads, wondering if we're still in the Europa chase or not after the match.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy the game.
Ha'way the lads.
For Tottenham perspective, check out Fan Focus with Spurs fan, Kevin McCauley right HERE