The Looking Ahead to the Visit of West Brom
Against a back-drop of five defeats in the opening six games and the sudden re-availability of Sam Allardyce, Saturday’s visit of West Bromwich Albion may be a tense affair.
David Moyes could never have envisaged such a scenario when he agreed to take the Sunderland job. But, it is just possible that Big Sam’s name might be heard in the stadium should the visitors take the lead or win the match; and that would heap even more pressure on Moyes’ shoulders.
Sunderland’s boss can little afford the cagey encounter which would ordinarily be expected when Tony Pulis visits the Stadium Of Light. Last season’s fixture was abysmal as Sunderland camped in The Baggies half but made no breakthrough against a side whose sole aim was a 0-0 result to see them to the 40-point mark.
The injury to Adnan Januzaj may in fact be timely as Moyes will be forced to shuffle his pack and freshen up an attack which has averaged less than a goal a game. With four of Sunderland's five strikes so far having come courtesy of Jermain Defoe, the goal-scoring burden is firmly back on the former England international.
West Brom have had a decent, if unremarkable start to the campaign, but with a tricky run of fixtures after their visit to the Stadium of Light, Pulis will be out for points. For a Sunderland side desperate for three, caution is not an option. A negative set-up or a cagey first half will unease an already tetchy Stadium of Light crowd. The Allardyce-England debacle may well add to the tension.
A Word on Januzaj
Remember, remember [Januzaj is back] the 5th of November. Adnan Januzaj is out for six weeks with an ankle injury. That puts him about due for a return when we travel to Bournemouth on Bonfire night, the longest away trip of the season at 355 miles.
Hopefully by then we might have won a game, and judging by his early showings in a red-and-white shirt, it’s hard to build a case on why Sunderland will miss the 21-year old Belgian during the six weeks he is out.
Underwhelming Adnan Janzuaj most certainly has been. It would be interesting to learn what guarantees over playing time, when fit, are in the loan agreement we have with Manchester United. Because, after his most recent efforts, you would expect that he would have had a real chance of being dropped for the visit of West Brom this weekend.
In his five starts this season in the Premier League, he has one red card, a couple of shots, a few dribbles and plenty of ‘caught-in-possessions’ to his name. In his favour, his pass success rate is not abysmal at a little over 63% and he has created 11 chances according to stats site squawka.com. Can anyone name them all? I’m sure I can’t.
Michael covered the topic in depth yesterday, and perhaps cometh the hour, cometh the Khazri.
Di Canio To Ride His Manor Again?
Sunderland's former managers are in the news all over the place at the moment. Big Sam out of England with Steve Bruce next in line, who knows? Meanwhile, in a quiet corner of Greater London, the natives are getting excitable at the prospect of the return of Paulo di Canio to English football.
Di Canio has emerged as one of the favourites for the vacant Leyton Orient job. Probably, in part because the club is owned by Italian businessman, Francesco Becchetti, and the notion of him taking a job just over half a mile from West Ham's new stadium is inviting.
After his Sunderland car-crash, many will be interested to see how he would fare back in English football after a three year absence. For Orient fans the appeal is obvious: the return of Di Canio to east London would add a few hundred on to their gate at a time when West Ham fans are not overly enamored with their new olympic-sized home.
Certainly, enticing a few Hammers fans from their controversial stadium, to watch their former idol at Leyton Orient, the club who battled West Ham over their move into it, somehow seems rather fitting.
Sturridge to Sunderland
According to calciomercato, who love a bit of gossip and who sometimes aren’t the worst source in the world, Sunderland will join West Ham and Stoke in a battle to sign Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge in the January window.
Not going to happen is it.
The fact that Sunderland will probably be desperate for a striker by then, depending how Victor Anichebe fares, is the only logic behind this one. Sturridge is in need of a manager who can make him tick and will be looking for a spot at the next World Cup. Joining David Moyes in a dour relegation battle? Don’t think so.
But, it proves one thing about transfer rumours – they’re really pointless in September.
Africa Cup of Nations Hats
For most of us, the African Cup of Nations merely represents an irritation as loads of the Premier League’s best players abandon their posts for a month.
But, this time around the 2017 tournament holds more interest than ever for Sunderland fans with three probable players taking part, and one possible.
Didier Ndong for Gabon, Whabi Khazri for Tunisia and Lamine Kone for Côte d'Ivoire. Papy Djilobodji has an outside chance of making the Senegal team, though his early shaky performances in the Premier League may have faded that somewhat.
The groupings for the hats took place last night and the seeds have been named. Gabon, holders Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Algeria are top seeds for the draw so immediately that rules out Ndong and Kone facing each other in the group stage. Whabi Khazri's Tunisia are in pot 2 meaning he could still face one of his teammates.
The draw for the group stages takes place on 19th October.