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Preview: A Massive Task Ahead If We Want Our First Win

This man must be stopped. Along with 10 others.
This man must be stopped. Along with 10 others.

Well, just call me Captain Obvious for pointing this out in the headline, but it's really the main thing about this weeks game. We're desperate for a win, not only to get some points on the board, but to keep some of the angrier fans at bay for a while. We need a win, but I'd rather there wasn't such pressure with Chelsea coming to town.

Trying to find the positives - beating Chelsea is a massive task at any time of season, but luckily for us, we've done it before in recent times. So why not get over the hump with style!!! Are you with me? Guys? Well.... erm... anyone?

On with the preview then...

Sunderland Team News

So to our team, and clearly changes are going to have to be made with the sale of Anton Ferdinand, and the opportunity for further tinkering with injuries picked up on international duty plus the signing of Nicklas Bendtner.

Starting off in goal though, there's no reason why Simon Mignolet won't continue between the sticks and Keiren Westwood taking the role he often does for Ireland as perennial substitute.

Defensively, we have choices to make. Obviously as mentioned Anton Ferdinand has gone, whilst Phil Bardsley and John O'Shea picked up knocks during the international break. He had little chance of playing anyway, but Blair Adams has been farmed out to Brentford on loan too.

O'Shea is carrying the most serious of the knocks having been forced to miss his countries game against Russia midweek, and we're told he'll miss 'a few weeks' for us now. His experience would have been crucial against the likes of Ashley Cole and Florent Malouda.

We're told Bardsley's knock won't force him out of the game, and it's likely he'll be given the right back role with O'Shea out. Kieran Richardson, retrning at left back you'd have to imagine.

Titus Bramble has been very vocal about wanting to return to the team, and played in a midweek reserve game against Newcastle (we won 4-3) and is very likely to take the spot. I can't forsee Michael Turner or Louis Laing making an impact, although the latter will no doubt be on the bench again.

Into midfield and attack, we're expecting a 4-4-2 formation from Brucey. Bruce had the tactical nous at Stamford Bridge to put Richardson on the right wing which worked very well, but I don't see such a masterstroke coming this weekend. The more likely proposition is a midfield line-up of Sebastian Larsson on the right, Lee Cattermole and Craig Gardner in the middle, and Jack Colback on the right to help try and subdue Juan Mata.

Up front we're looking at Stephane Sessegnon partnering Nicklas Bendtner. Asamoah Gyan is carrying a heavy knock from international duty, and will need a few more weeks rest to be fully healed,  in addition to his head beuing 'full of nonsense' according to Brucey.

Hopefully Sess & Bendtner form some sort of partnership, and both are coming into the game in great form.

Alternatively Bentdner could start with Ji Dong-Won/ConnorWickham, and Sessegnon return out wide, but lets face it, that seems far too sensible for Bruce to actually do it.

Chelsea Team News

Chelsea are surprisingly similar to us this season. A fair bit of money spent, whilst fans consider the team to be under performing, and on the field misfiring.

The Blues also have injury concerns in the form of Petr Cech, Michael Essien, Dider Drogba and David Luiz, and of those three we're only expecting Luiz & Cech to be available for Saturday.

Despite the arrival of Andre Villas-Boas, Chelsea seem to be playing the same way they have for years, where Ashley Cole and Jose Bosingwa will both be the most dangerous players on show in a midfield that Mata aside, lacks any sort of dynamism. The dangers of Chelsea are obvious, but we really need to first of all stop those two, and the rest should take care of itself, so it will be interesting to see how we line-up down the wings.

As anyone will have noticed, we've been defending from the front recently, and fingers crossed the likes of Cattermole will be able to get in the faces of these two and John Obi Mikel to stop attacks before they even start. Easier said than done mind you.

Predicted Line-Up

Mignolet; Bardsley, Bramble, Brown, Richardson; Larsson, Cattermole, Colback, Gardner; Sessegnon; Bendtner

Classic Encounter

We go back to 1999 for this week's classic encounter, and the 4-1 demolition at the Stadium of Light. Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips with a pair each in the opening 38 minutes, including an absolute stunner from SuperKev, which all but ended Gianluca Vialli's hopes of taking the title to Stamford Bridge. I'd not only give my right arm, but both arms, and possibly legs for a similar outcome this week.

Get Rich Quick

This item might be called 'Get Rich Quick' but it really should be called 'Random Punt' after a distinct lack of success in the last two weeks. That's not going to deter us, it's not the gamblers way. This week there's good value whether you're an optimist or a pessimist. The bookies have Chelsea as heavy favourites for the game, and rightly so, but I don't think we're going to get 4/1 for us to win at home many other times this season, so I'd get on that. Others of interest include Sebastian Larsson scoring first at 16/1, and on the negative side Juan Mata to open the scoring at 13/2, all with BetFred.

Song For Whoever

As ever we like to bring you a song to pump you up, or get you in the mood for the game. We also like you to suggest them, so please do so on Twitter - @RokerReport - keep that in mind for next week.

This week's song comes from Mark McGuinness, or @mcguinnessafc on Twitter, and he suggests this classic...

Yep, "Come Together" by popular beat combo The Beatles. "It's about time we as supporters got right behind the team" adds Mark, and we completely agree. 

Many thanks for sending in, and if Mark or indeed anyone else wants to have a stab at this next week, don't be shy! Send them to @RokerReport on Twitter.


Urgh, I really want to be positive, so the best I can muster is 0-0, as speculated on the podcast. My theory being that Chelsea aren't scoring much, and neither are we, so 0-0 has a very real chance. I'll be hoping for that, but in all honesty I just want to avoid a rout, and the lads to put in a performance we can be proud of.


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