Once again everyone we've been providing our views to local newspaper The Durham Times on all things Sunderland. We like to do that. It makes us feel sort of wanted. Plus of course if you've ever read it you'll know it provides excellent coverage of all local sports and news.
Anyway, check out The Durham Times online at their website - www.durhamtimes.co.uk and be sure to follow them on Twitter too for all the latest from Sunderland AFC @DTSport because that's pretty good of you too.
You can pick the paper up every Friday from your local newsagents, supermarkets, or well... anywhere that sells stuff really. It's easy to get a hold of, so do it and help keep the excellent local press we have in business. If they ever go you'll realise just how important a source of information they are.
For now though, why not enjoy our latest offering? Of course this is slightly out of date given it was published on Friday but it's a great read anyway...Well, the pasting at the hands of Arsenal that many in both the media and pubs across the land predicted failed to materialise as Martin O'Neill's side rolled up their sleeves and put in a dogged and resilient display mainly restricting the home side to half chances and long range efforts. The frustration was evident on Arsene Wenger's face as his new look attacking line blew what few chances the Sunderland back four - led fantastically by an impressive Carlos Cuellar - allowed them, chances that may well have been converted had a certain Dutchman not listened to the little boy inside him. It was the same old story in the final third for Sunderland as Stephane Sessegnon and, when introduced, Loius Saha looked short of match fitness and the side struggled to make a real attacking impact on the game but for an early chance that fell to James McClean who wandered brilliantly between Arsenal's central defence and forced a good stop from Szczesny.
Whilst there was much pride to be taken from the hard-fought point, the lack of guile and creativity in-front of goal seemed to spur Sunderland into action in the transfer window this week as a tidal wave of excitement hit Wearside, mainly fueled by growing speculation and even belief that the club may well have persuaded Adam Johnson to pack up his bags and "come home". Sunderland fans have come to accept disappointments and false dawns over recent years and as such there was very much a feeling of pessimism and doubt surrounding the Johnson link. With club's such as Spurs and Liverpool also showing interest and being able to offer the fabled European football SAFC fans were understandably reluctant to have their fingers burnt and buy completely into the story. Then Manchester City accepted Sunderland's tabled offer for the England international winger. Whilst at the time of writing Johnson has yet to come to a decision surrounding his future there does seem to be hope that Ellis Short and his team can pull off what would have to be regarded as somewhat of a coup for the club and even if Johnson decides to chase European football elsewhere the ambition of our club has to be admired and acknowledged.
The optimism which met the news that Manchester City had accepted Sunderland's bid was as refreshing as it was exciting. The frustration which many us felt as the early days of the transfer window turned into weeks with the club seemed no closer to finalising any deals vanished as the famous yellow ticker crept its way across our televison screens. And you know what, why not get excited? SAFC's patience in the window now appears close to paying dividends and we here at Roker Park expect it to be a frantic and frenetic run in to the end of the month and wouldn't bet against Sunderland surprising one or two people with the calibre of player holding a red and white scarf at the academy over the coming days.
O'Neill will also be keen to see the transfer of Steven Fletcher to Sunderland finally completed as "Jez" appears to have relaxed his stance on the want-a-way forward's tenure with Wolves, hopefully in time for the striker to be able to play some part in SAFC's first home game of the season against newly promoted Reading. I'm sure I am not the only Sunderland fan, or neutral for that matter, who has become rather bored of the daily speculation regarding this transfer since the final whistle of last season. Of course Wolves' initial stance was to be expected and admired, however the more Moxey spoke in the press the more apparent it was that he was as eager to sell as we were to buy.
Sunderland fans will head to the Stadium of Light on Saturday either with a couple of new faces on show, or as is more likely, the prospect of some exciting talent on the horizon. Either way they will be quietly confident in their side's chances of taking all three points from the game. Following a four year absence from the top-flight Reading managed to salvage a point from their opening day fixture against Stoke, as former Sunderland midfielder and Bananaman look-a-like Dean Whitehead earned an early bath for two bookings. O'Neill will hope his defensive line can emulate the success their opponents had in that fixture in keeping the man-mountain Pavel Progrebynak quiet, a different prospect and test entirely from the attack offered from Arsenal. Reading keeper Adam Federici, who kept twenty clean sheets in the Championship last term, will be hoping to put right his horrendous error which gifted Stoke the lead last time out but should expect little sympathy from the stands of the Stadium of Light if he were to bundle another into the back of his own net this weekend.