Well, what a week eh? If Monday night’s debacle, the debate over Bruce’s position at the club and Mr. Bramble’s alleged indiscretions weren’t enough to keep you busy we even have a game to look forward to tomorrow as West Bromwich Albion make the trip to the SOL.
West Brom have proved to be tricky customers for us over the last few years, and just when Bruce really needs a "gimme" or is it Gimmy? Either way an easy game, the old addage that there are no easy games in the Premier League is ringing true.
It's rapidly becoming a bit of a circus here at Sunderland, and, as you can imagine there is plenty to cover, so let’s waste no more time and get straight on to business with team news, predictions, songs and much more in the Roker Report preview...
Sunderland Team News
Monday’s performance left a lot to be desired; flat, uninspiring and devoid of creativity, Bruce will be wanting to liven things up someway or another.
Starting at the back we can expect Mignolet to keep the number one spot despite his erratic display of distribution, how much time does that lad want with the ball at his feet? It is the defensive line that will protect the Belgian that presents the biggest dilemma for the gaffer this weekend you would assume.
Without going into details, legal reasons and all that, it is highly unlikely that Titus Bramble will figure on Saturday afternoon. This leaves Bruce with a few options:
1. A straight, like for like swap with Michael Turner who has recently returned to full training and was on the bench against Norwich.
2. Move John O’Shea into a central berth alongside Wes Brown and drop Ahmed Elmohamady into the vacant right back position.
3. Again, move John O’Shea into the centre but give Louis Laing an opportunity to impress at right back.
Personally I think Bruce may deem it too much of an ask to play Laing given the pressure the side are under and I fully expect him to er on the side of caution and bring Michael Turner back into the fold.
The midfield four that looked so dynamic and dangerous against Stoke were barely recognisable in Monday’s defeat. Personally I would love to see Bruce employ a 4-3-3 formation, although I do believe this has the potential to leave our fullbacks exposed, not that Elmohamady and Larsson did a lot to protect their respective colleagues on Monday night. It is expected therefore that the gaffer will revert to type and start with a 4-4-2 formation. Reports in the press yesterday seemed to hint that Elmohamady and Sessegnon were to be the fallguys from the defeat with Cattermole and Whickham looking likely to replace the pair. However it would seem now that Wickham and Larsson have picked up knocks, meanining the African duo are likely to be spared.
You would imagine this would see Cattermole slotting into the middle alongside Gardner, Elmohamady sticking on his more natural right-hand side whilst Vaughan will be shoehorned into a left midfield role. The first thing that strikes me is the worrying lack of pace that this midfield has but I guess that is nothing new.
That only leaves the forward two: Bendtner and Sessegnon. It's been hit and miss so far for the pair, here's hoping Saturday is a hit...
West Bromwich Albion Team News
Roy Hodgson sent out his team in the 0-0 draw at home to Fulham in a 4-5-1 formation and whilst Shane Long was an isolated figure for the first half The Baggies looked a lot more of a threat in the second half when they reverted to 4-4-2 and pushed Peter Odemwingie into a more advanced role. I’d expect more of the same on Saturday, with Hodgson happy to keep things tight in the first half and maybe change things as the game progresses.
Baggies fans had hoped to see a return to action for Zoltan Gera however the Hungarian midfielder has been ruled out until at least after the upcoming International break. Gera has been missing for a number of weeks following a recurrence of an ankle injury in training.
Hodgson is also not expected to rush back Gabriel Tamas despite his availability following suspension as Craig Dawson and Gareth McAuely have impressed the manager in his absence. McAuely was voted MOTM for his display against Fulham last time out.
SAFC: Mignolet; O’Shea, Turner, Brown, Richardson; Elmohamady, Cattermole, Gardner, Vaughan; Bendtner, Sessegnon
WBA: Foster; Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Shorey; Brunt, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Thomas, Odemwingie; Long
With times somewhat turbulent for SAFC at the moment lets look back to a fixture a few years back when fans were again unsure as to the future of their club. With Roy Keane slammed the Stadium of Light door firmly shut behind him it was left to Ricky Sbragia to take over and try to guide the club to safety. The 4-0 home win over West Bromwich Albion in December of 2008 went some way to securing the club’s safety. Kenwyne Jones opened the scoring with a header and doubled his tally with a tap in following a fine double save from Scott Carson. Andy Reid would make it 3-0 before half time, nodding home a Steed Malbranque cross. The points were safe when Djibril Cisse hammered home a penalty in the second half following a handball in the box by Roman Bednar. The result saw The Black Cats claw their way out of the relegation zone at the expense of Newcastle.
Get Rich Quick
Simon continued his barren run on Monday after he backed Sessegnon to grab the only goal in a 1-0 to the lads. Hopefully I can change things round and put some cash in our pockets. With Nicklas Bendtner looking the only remotely dangerous SAFC player on Monday, I am going to back the young Danish forward to get the first goal of the game, priced at a 5/1 on BetFred.
Song For Whoever
As always we turned to our lovely Twitter followers for a song to help sum up the feel of the fans going into the game. Poignant lyrics, ironic song titles, tune’s to rally the troops, everything is considered! So make sure you drop us a tweet next time, just like @richardjpurdom and our very own Dan Williams and this poignant ode to a certain someone, allegedly...
I think this could be a tight affair. WBA will be happy to keep things tight for at least the first half, try and catch us on the counter through Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie before maybe opening up more in the second half. If the Sunderland that beat Stoke turns up I can see us running out 1-0 winners, but if the Sunderland that turned up to Carrow Road rear their ugly heads again it could be another torrid afternoon. Hopefully it will be the former!
Keep The Faith and Ha'way The Lads!