The first home game is upon us. All summer the Stadium of light has been undergoing a makeover, gone are the pink seats and we can now enjoy the brand new Fan Zone which boasts a big screen, live music, mini football pitches, activities and an array of questionable food options such as the Pulled Pork Sundae. But it's last weeks performance that will leave a bitter taste in the mouth.
Last week we saw a horror show as Leicester City took us apart with a mix of pace, work rate and desire, while the Black Cats floated lethargically around the pitch. Surely to stand any chance of safety this season what's demanded is 100% percent effort every game.
Saturday we welcome Norwich City, promoted via the play-offs it's a game most teams would look to take points from. Their lack of pace should give our defence an easier time but promoted teams often raise their game so a repeat of last weeks shambles will be viewed upon as completely unacceptable. There are no easy games in the Premier League and 3 points will never just fall on our lap.
Optimism quickly turned to negativity following the Leicester defeat, coupled with a slow week on the transfer front a wave of concern has swept through the message boards, social networks, public houses, at homes and in work places. We have an opportunity this Saturday, last season saw attendances rise yet so often the atmosphere seemed stagnant. But we've got the chance to raise the roof this weekend and start as we mean to go on. For too long our home form has been questionable. But we are led by a general now, isn't it time for the fans and players to fall in, stand up and be counted? Don't we have the chance to shrug off the negativity and nerves and simply get behind the team without expectation but a determination to provide the team with an advantage like we used to be during the 2nd tier mediocrity where we've spent most of our history. It's a cliche but home form counts for so much and we have a chance to make the Stadium of Light a fortress once again.
Referee: Kevin Friend
Assistants: R West & A Holmes
Fourth Official: M Atkinson
Sunderland Team News
Adam Johnson has been ruled out for 6 weeks after finding out his shoulder injury does not require an operation, he joins Jordi Gómez on the long term injury list while Danny Graham is still struggling for match fitness. Yann M'Vila could make his Sunderland debut. Dick Advocaat could tinker with the system and go with a 442 while he waits for further additions in the transfer market with Steven Fletcher expected to come in for the injured Johnson. John O'Shea could be restored to the back line to help sure up what was a shaky defense last time out.
Norwich City Team News
Martin Olsson and Kyle Lafferty are also both still out with shoulder and knee injuries respectively. Other than that Norwich can boast a fully fit squad,
Previous League meetings
2013/2014- 22nd March: Norwich City 2 - 0 Sunderland (Premier League)
2013/2014- 21st December: Sunderland 0 - 0 Norwich City (Premier League)
2012/2013- 17th March: Sunderland 1 - 1 Norwich City (Premier League)
2012/2013- 2nd December: Norwich City 2 - 1 Sunderland (Premier League)
2011/2012- 1st February: Sunderland 3 - 0 Norwich City (Premier League)
2011/2012- 26th September: Norwich City 2 - 1 Sunderland (Premier League)
2006/2007- 2nd December: Sunderland 1 - 0 Norwich City (Championship)
2006/2007- 4th November: Norwich City 1 - 0 Sunderland (Championship)
2003/2004- 4th May: Sunderland 1 - 0 Norwich City (League Division One)
2003/2004- 25nd October: Norwich City 1 - 0 Sunderland (League Division One)
Leicester City 4-2 Sunderland
Norwich City 1-3 Crystal Palace
Last Corresponding Fixture
Head to head
- The Black Cats have not beaten the Canaries in any of the last four meetings (D2, L2).
- Norwich have scored just once in their last six visits to the Stadium of Light.
- Sunderland haven't won their opening home league match of the season since 2007, when they beat Tottenham 1-0.
- The Black Cats conceded the joint-highest number of home goals in last season's Premier League.
- Lee Cattermole has been booked in 14 of his 29 Premier League appearances since the start of last season, more often than any other player.
- Norwich have lost seven of their last eight Premier League games.
- The Canaries have conceded 26 goals in their last 12 Premier League matches.
- Norwich won 13 games and 44 points away from home last season, the highest total in the Championship.
- Nathan Redmond has scored four goals in his last five appearances for Norwich.
A Word On Our Opponents
A big thank you to Jack Goddard, a Norwich City season ticket holder for 12 years who had this to say on Norwich City;
Last week’s result against Crystal Palace outlined perfectly for Norwich fans the difference between the Championship and Premier League. Despite outplaying the Eagles for large periods we found ourselves on the end of a comfortable loss. We may have had a beautiful Cameron Jerome over-head kick disallowed and a stonewall penalty appeal waved away but it was Lewis Grabban’s two missed opportunities in the first half that cost us. As we learnt two years ago, if you can’t score in the Premier League, you won’t be around for long.As such, Norwich need a striker, pronto. We’ve been linked with Roma striker Mattia Destro, which looks like a shrewd piece of business, but also Dwight Gayle, who is no better than the forwards we already have. Thus far, our pre-season has been somewhat underwhelming, with Robbie Brady and Yousouff Mulumbu being the two stand-out pieces of business. If you saw Match of the Day last week though, you’ll know that our defense can be a disaster, and so a centre-back is the one thing we’ve needed all summer. No news on that front yet, which is worrying.Despite this, Norwich fans are positive. We came up and stayed up four years ago and we intend on doing so again. We’ve got a new, actually competent manager now, too, unlike our last Premier League campaign. This season may be a struggle but if we survive it, we’re here to stay this time.