Gav: Wahbi For Me!
Whilst I can concede that there is quite clearly an issue between David Moyes and Wahbi Khazri that we as supporters are not perhaps privy to, I simply cannot look past selecting the Tunisian playmaker in place of Duncan Watmore down at Swansea this weekend.
Fabio Borini, in a perfect world, will be the best choice of all of our forwards to take over from Watmore in our side. When you consider though that he hasn't kicked a ball since August, the severity of his injury (he required surgery, lets not forget), our crippling fixture list over the coming month and our mounting injury list, it makes absolutely no sense to rush him back when it could hamper him further in doing so.
I'm completely unconvinced by the abilities of Adnan Januzaj as a Premier League footballer - he simply does not have the work ethic, defensive-fortitude or mental toughness to knuckle down and compete when the going gets tough.
I attended a game between our U23s side and Tottenham last week at Eppleton and, whilst he scored a very good goal, Adnan looked like he wanted to be anywhere but on that pitch - even with his first team manager watching on from the stands.
Wahbi Khazri, however, was instrumental in our run towards survival last season and he certainly proved to me that he has the work rate required of a Sunderland player - particularly in this David Moyes-moulded side, where every man in a red and white shirt is required to run themselves into the ground whether we win or lose.
I'm not going to ignore Khazri's flaws - he is wasteful, and you have to imagine that his fitness at present probably isn't up to scratch, but he's a man with something to prove.
Not only does he now have an opportunity to win David Moyes over, but he needs minutes under his belt before he heads off to Gabon to take part in the African Cup of Nations next month with his national side.
Plus, the fans have a lot of time for Wahbi, whilst very few care for Januzaj having suffered watching his lack of effort in the early stages of the season.
If this guy really has the hunger to succeed and prove himself, then now is the most opportune time to hand him a start in a game that we simply must win.
Tom: Adnan Is My Man!
Adnan Januzaj is one hell of a frustrating player. He's clearly blessed with an abundance of talent - enough to convince the likes of Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund to thrust him into the side - but it is undeniable that he is wholly inconsistent.
He’s had somewhat of an indifferent start to his Sunderland career with promising displays against Manchester City and Southampton coupled with God awful ones against Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur.
However, with Duncan Watmore out for the season this is the perfect time for the Belgian to step up and prove his worth. While he does not provide the same rough and tumble that Watmore does, there is a level of composure and willingness to beat a player that Januzaj does possess over the former Altrincham man.
Going into this week’s crucial game against Swansea City, David Moyes faces a choice as to who to replace Watmore and with Fabio Borini unlikely to be rushed back it will probably be between Januzaj and Wahbi Khazri. While neither have set the world alight thus far this campaign, there is a slightly brighter glimmer of hope for the Belgian.
This is an opportunity that Januzaj simply has to step up to, not just for the sake of Sunderland but for his own career. Seemingly shunned by Jose Mourinho and completely bombed out of Dortmund, Sunderland is the Belgian’s last chance to show that he is a genuine talent and not ready to become the next Federico Macheda.
Moyes’ decision to not immediately restore Januzaj to the starting line-up following his return from injury should be the proverbial kick up the arse that the Belgian needs. It hopefully riles up a player to come back and prove why he should be in the team and letting a fresh Januzaj loose on a hugely fragile Swansea back four could prove to be a Moyes masterstroke.
The Belgian’s pace on the wing against Neil Taylor will provide another outlet to release strikers Jermain Defoe and Victor Anichebe. It also provides extra support to Big Vic when he expertly takes down clearances from Jordan Pickford and if (and it’s a very big if) he can supply a more consistent final ball then the strikers will gobble up chances.
I’m basing a huge amount of belief on Januzaj’s desire to make it at Sunderland, to put himself back in contention at Manchester United or even put himself in the shop window. If he plays the way he can, then Moyes will have no problem choosing him ahead of Khazri.
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