@GRokerReport - Take A Break!
Although Sam Allardyce said he would rather his side were playing this weekend as opposed to having some time off, I think the break will do us good ahead of what is going to be a relegation-defining game at Newcastle.
Our derby opponents are currently top of the Premier League injury table, with eleven of their players currently missing through various issues. They travel away to Leicester at the weekend, a game that if they are to have any chance of succeeding in, every single Newcastle player with have to run themselves into the ground.
Switch to Sunderland, however, and barring an ankle problem that Duncan Watmore is dealing with we should have a virtually fully-fit squad ahead of the derby - touch wood.
Add to that the fact we have more time to prepare, and the fact we have a modicum of momentum behind us, it puts us in a better position going into a match that could ultimately seal the fate of one of the two sides competing.
As nice as it would be to try and avenge the way the game ended at Southampton by playing fairly quickly, it's not a big deal. The players will be itching to work hard ahead of the derby as it's the game they all want to play in and succeed in. The extra time on the training pitch, to work on fundamentals that we seem to be lacking at times, will also be a huge help ahead of what is going to be a grueling end to the season.
Both Norwich and Newcastle have unbelievably difficult games to play across the weekend. Imagine being still outside of the bottom three with a game in hand? It's not an inevitability that they'll both lose, but it's highly likely when you consider the level of opposition that they face.
This little break is an opportune moment to take a step back, reflect, and prepare. It's needed, all things considered.
@RoryFallow - No Rest For The Wicked!
After the conceding that late goal against Southampton the players will be itching to get back onto the pitch.
This makes there not being a Sunderland fixture for two weeks a big downer as it would be great to keep our momentum going. It would have also given us an opportunity to open up a decent gap on the bottom three as Norwich and Newcastle both have difficult games this weekend (at home to Manchester City and away to Leicester respectively).
The lads were due to play Everton at home, a side who love conceding goals, so if we'd have been playing we could have potentially opened up a four point gap on Newcastle as we went into the derby. That would have really heightened the pressure on the Magpies going into an already massive game, as they would have needed to win to just get in touching distance of us.
It now looks like a win for them would mean going above us or worse, pulling even further away if they somehow managed to beat a rampant Leicester City side. Where as a if we could have played (and beaten) Everton a draw against our neighbours would have been a decent result as it probably would have kept us out of trouble.
It's not like we need a rest either, the players have just came back from Dubai! I'm not saying we need three fixtures a week or anything, but with us playing quite well we don't need such a stop start schedule.
A game every weekend allows us to keep to a rhythm and that rhythm is in danger of being thrown off, with no match this weekend an international break after the Newcastle game. Sam Allardyce will need to use training to keep his squad sharp, to avoid any potential rustiness, as the lads will have to make every one of their remaining nine games count.
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