Saturday’s defeat to Leeds was a bitter pill to swallow, there’s no doubt about it. After a bright opening the side faded as Leeds took the game by the scruff of the neck, and scored two goals to end Grayson’s undefeated start to the season.
However, tonight’s game gives Grayson a chance to mix things up as his side face League Two’s Carlisle United in the Football League Cup Second round. A game that the Sunderland boss will undoubtedly use as an opportunity to try out a few things ahead of a trip to Yorkshire this weekend when his side face Barnsley at Oakwell.
The trip over to Brunton Park this evening won’t just be an opportunity for Grayson to experiment though, as several players will undoubtedly be keen to prove their worth if given the chance to impress. Lynden Gooch, Adam Matthews, Joel Asoro, Darron Gibson and several youngsters - including the impressive Ethan Robson and Tom Beadling - will be keen to show what they can do if given the opportunity to play.
It won’t be an easy game though, that’s for sure. Carlisle have started this season brightly, and have gone unbeaten since an opening day loss at home to Swindon Town. Since then they’ve scored 7 goals in their last 3 games, and will be desperate to pull off an upset against The Lads this evening.
Carlisle’s Bermudian midfielder Reggie Lambe has made a great start to the season, scoring 2 goals from 3 shots, and Sunderland will need to nullify the sprightly enthusiasm of the former Ipswich and Toronto man if they are to ensure a win this evening.
I’m almost certain that Simon Grayson won’t allow his men to let down their guard because he just seems like someone who won’t let that happen. That being said, Carlisle are no mugs, and turning up won’t ensure victory. We must play well if we are to emerge with another Cup victory and regenerate the momentum lost in the wake of the Leeds defeat.
For Sunderland, tomorrow will be about giving a few players the chance to impress. Grayson already noted in his pre-match press conference that Oviedo would come in for the injured Galloway:
It’s good to have players coming back into the fold - these will help us along the way. Bryan Oviedo will start against Carlisle on Tuesday. He’s worked well in training - it’s a good opportunity to have him back in the team and very much welcome because we need as many players as possible - it is a demanding schedule that we have had and will have.
However, the left-back surely won’t be the only new face in the side tomorrow evening. In fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Grayson tinkers with his tactical approach to tonight’s game.
An issue the side faced against Leeds was the fact that Sunderland’s Sunderland’s midfield two struggled to cope with Leeds’ midfield three. One possible solution could be to line up with something resembling a 4-2-3-1 which could also turn into a 4-3-3 when needed.
The introduction of another central midfielder, who would be tasked with more of an attacking role as well as helping out in the middle of the park, could also help Sunderland to be more efficient when in possession of the ball, as well as allowing the two deeper midfielders to provide support to our full-backs who haven’t set the world alight so far this campaign.
Against a side like Carlisle, who will more than likely look to frustrate Grayson’s men, having wide attackers as well as a central player linking play between midfield and attack would be a real bonus, and could certainly offer another outlet. Aiden McGeady and George Honeyman could both fill that role, but I’d like to see Lynden Gooch given the opportunity to showcase his talent.
He often plays as a forward for the U23s, yet also plays out wide and centrally for the senior side, so asking him to be the furthest forward central midfield player would be a coy move. Khazri has looked off the boil and Gooch never lacks commitment - it would be interesting to see if the CaliMackem could come up with the goods.
Anyway, just my two cents.
As mentioned, Oviedo will start, and Jack Rodwell might make the squad. When asked in his presser about potential changes, Grayson noted:
Tuesday, there will be changes because some players need game time and, ultimately, we want to get through to the next round of the cup. Ultimately, it’s two games this week and then we take stock of the whole situation. So far, we’re pleased with what we’ve done.
SAFC’s Starting XI: Ruiter, Matthews, Browning, Kone, Oviedo, Ndong, Gibson, Khazri, Gooch, Asoro, Vaughan.
Score: I think Grayson will tinker with his tactical approach and his line-up, but I think it’ll work out well and ensure a solid 2-0 victory with Asoro and Gooch grabbing the goals. Ha’way!