Rory - Stick With The Survivors!
It's a fair suggestion to say we should play some of our up and coming young players against Watford, one I would usually agree with as well. However, our lads have been excellent for us in 2016 and they deserve a game where they can play without a huge burden of pressure on them. We've only lost three games in our last sixteen, a phenomenal record considering the league position Big Sam inherited, so let's give the starting XI for the majority of those games one last salute for the season.
In goal, there's been a few cries for Jordan Pickford to started ahead of Vito Mannone but I say let Vito carry on. In his last two games alone he's made some great saves and has hugely contributed to our survival. If Duncan Watmore was to start then I certainly wouldn't drop Jermain Defoe, who will be looking to get as close as he can to equaling his best Premier League goal return in a season. Wahbi Khazri scored a worldie against Chelsea and was a brilliant threat from set pieces against Everton and i'd like to see that continue, but i suppose you could make a case for resting Fabio Borini. The sexy Italian forward has run himself into the ground and reportedly has a chance of making Italy's European Championship squad, so a rest for him could be on the cards.
Our back four has became solid and difficult to break down and changing the colossus centre half pairing of Younes Kaboul and Lamine Kone would be madness. After a brace against Everton, Kone is on a scoring streak! Kaboul was given the man of the match award against the Toffee's as well so just let them crack on. As for the full backs, let's give DeAndre Yedlin a final send off in a Sunderland shirt and recognise the effort that Patrick van Aanholt has put in to turn his season around.
You could say the same for Yann M'Vila as you would for Yedlin, although it's much more likely M'Vila will stay and he's making positive noises about a potential move. Either way, it would still be nice to let one of our best players this season go out and express himself. I can't see Lee Cattermole treating this game any different to any other so that intensity will be needed as we look to finish just above the forty point mark. A game of football that doesn't involve Jan Kirchhoff just isn't worth watching, in my opinion but the beautiful German may be suffering fatigue due to him still playing catch up fitness wise.
Make a couple of changes if you must, Sam but nothing whole sale. It's down to the players you've picked most weeks that we'll have another season of Premier League football and they deserve a game they can enjoy free of the pressure of survival.
Gav - Ring The Changes!
I wrote yesterday that I felt that Sunderland need to give some of the youngsters a chance, and I stick by that statement. This is a nothing game and I see more benefit in giving up-and-comers their chance to play than sticking with a team that has nothing left to prove.
We NEED a backup left back next season, and Tom Robson has been at the club long enough now. He needs a chance to show he can at least compete at this level. Play him. George Honeyman is in the same boat - he's been around the fringes of the first team for two or three years now. He needs to be allowed to show if he can sink or swim. Play him.
Seb Larsson and Duncan Watmore have been unlucky not to force their way into our team in recent weeks and have played their part in our survival, being used as dependable backup late on in games when our stronger players begin to tire. There's no harm is starting either, particularly in Larsson's case as he's most likely going to be off in the summer.
I wouldn't grumble if Jordan Pickford gets the nod ahead of Vito Mannone either. He's not played a great deal of football since January and it's not a huge deal if Vito Mannone drops out. Wes Brown has been a great servant to the club and Sunday could very well be his last ever game before retiring. With nothing left to play for, I'd pair him up with John O'Shea in the centre of defence for one last run out.
To summise - this game means nothing, but we do have the chance to showcase a number of players that would benefit from some game time. And, at the same time, some of our regular starters have ran themselves into the ground, particularly in the last week. Allow them to rest. They have nothing left to prove.
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