Preview: Sunderland Set To Win Either Way At The Reebok?

If anyone know's this expression then answers on a postcard please.

I'll level with you all from the off, I'm running out of things to say in these opening gambits. I want to be positive, and by lordy I want us to win, but the feeling is being lost more and more, and Saturday afternoon's aren't that enjoyable any more as we prepare to be baffled and insulted in the space of a few short hours.

Plus side's could come in several ways this weekend. Firstly, and the one I hope for more than anything, is we've got a fairly decent record at Bolton, and it gives me some slight feeling that we might get something. On the other hand however, and the option I really don't want is defeat pushes Steve Bruce closer to the door. I don't want us to get beat as I've seen some suggest, but every cloud and all that.

So with this in mind, lets look at the teams, the betting, the music and make predictions for the game itself...

Sunderland Team News

No injury news, in fact no news period as we found when doing the podcast this week, so I'll assume everyone who was fit and able last week can go this week.

Simon Mignolet will sit in goal again I'd imagine despite dropping a few clangers against Arsenal. He retained his place post-Newcastle (Attention Steve: This is not obsession, just in that game he was worse) which was infinitely worse, so I'm sure he'll be given the benefit of the doubt again.

In defence there could be changes with Phil Bardsley back from suspension. If Phil comes back into the starting line-up, then the best option at the back would surely be Bardsley at right-back, John O'Shea moving to the centre to partner Wes Brown and Kieran Richardson at left-back. This would all seem far too sensible, so don't expect it to happen. The more likely outcome is, if he returns, he comes in at left-back with Richardson either dropped or moving top the left of midfield. Or even more likely than all of that, Bardsley is on the bench and it's as you were.

In midfield, it will once again be a four. Ahmed Elmohamady will no doubt continue on the right -hand side, and if all he can offer us this week is height then he'll have done a decent job. In the middle I suspect it will be Cattermole and Vaughan again with Sebastian Larsson stuck out wide again. If he's not suspended. Some fantasy football games are claiming he is, but I've got my doubts. If he doesn't make it then expect Jack Colback to take the role ahead of Craig Gardner, what with being a lefty.

In good news however, Nicklas Bendtner returns to the starting line-up and no doubt he will be partnered by Stephane Sessegnon in a 4-4-2. The pair have been a bright-spot in the last few weeks, so I'm hoping that this continues.

We're told Connor Wickham will make his first start. I do hope so, which would of course mean Sessegnon moved into midfield (his better position) although quite frankly I'll believe it when I see it. Last week was a pretty good time to start Wickham too, and he was only deemed good enough for about 10 minutes of action.

Bolton Wanderers Team News

Bolton have injury worries, but most of them are long-term and were never likely to be in contention this weekend. Those include top players like Stuart Holden, and Chung Yong-Lee as well as the likes of Tyrone Mears.

Bolton will line-up similarly to us, and don't look likely to change from the team which won at Wigan Athletic last weekend 3-1. 

When seeking those who'll cause problems for us, you wouldn't be shouted at for suggesting the obvious one in Kevin Davies, however I'm more inclined to think David N'Gog will score given that we once tried to sign him. Another who was heavily linked with a move to the Stadium of Light is Chris Eagles, who has also been in fine form for The Trotters this season.

The way we can get at Bolton will be to play a high front line. Their defence is the worst in the Premier League this season with a goal difference of -10 and 15 goals conceded at home so far. Oh if only they had a world-class defender capable of improving any team like Gary Cahill... I jest, Cahill and Co will no doubt have an easy afternoon as we're not the type of team to try and exploit the obvious flaws of our opposition. Why do that when you can settle for a draw?

Predicted Line-Ups

SAFC: Mignolet; O'Shea, Turner, Brown, Richardson; Elmohamady, Vaughan, Cattermole, Larsson; Sessegnon, Bendtner

Bolton: Jaaskelainen; Boyata, Cahill, Wheater, Robinson; Eagles, Pratley, Reo-Coker, Petrov; Davies, N'Gog

Classic Encounter

We'd normally go way back into the past, but to be honest, I think last season's game will be looked back on well over time. The 2-1 win came unexpectedly. Perhaps even more unexpectedly than the result though was an incredible performance from Bolo Zenden, in which he completely dominated the game, whilst Sulley Muntari actually did something good for us and scored a goal. I'll remember that day well. That game was very much against the form book, so here's hoping for a repeat.

Get Rich Quick

In this week's get rich quick I'm going to back a couple of scorers. They've got better odds, and dammit I need a win and sharpish. Stephane Sessegnon hasn't scored this season. He has to score soon, surely, he must be due? Well I'm backing him to open the scoring this week at 8/1. Those of a negative disposition might want to look at someone like Gary Cahill. A danger from corners, and priced at 20/1.

Song For Whoever

Ah song for whoever, this week's "whoever" though can only be one man. So we'll move swiftly on to a suggestion which comes by way of Catherine Embleton, also known on Twitter as @Lil_Miss_Kat_x if you fancy giving her a follow. Catherine has been kind enough to select this song by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman...

Yes, it's Time To Say Goodbye... you'll never guess to who. Many thanks to Catherine for sending it in, and be sure to send your own suggestions each and every week to @RokerReport on Twitter!

Prediction

On the Podcast I suggested a 0-0, a turgid 0-0 at that, however I've given my head a little shake and thought that if you don't think positive, you won't get anything positive. So, like Steve Bruce I'm going to sweep Da Haterz under the carpet, ignore them completely and go for a 1-0 win to us. Why the blooming hell not.

If we lose then boohoo, at least it moves pillowface closer to the door. Yeah, childish to throw round the insults, but it's no worse than what we've endured over the last few weeks from the man himself.

A draw might be enough to hang on another week. This does us no favours, much like the point we would gain, so lets just bloody win some football matches.

Ha'way The Lads!

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