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The Big Match: Barnsley v Sunderland - Gooch? Honeyman? Both?

After a gutsy win away to Carlisle earlier in the week, will Grayson give Gooch and others a chance to bag another win today against Barnsley?

Bury v Sunderland - Carabao Cup First Round Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

A disappointing loss at home to Leeds last weekend was somewhat remedied in the 2-1 win away to Carlisle on Tuesday as Lynden Gooch inspired his side to victory with a goal and an assist.

Before the game Grayson had stated that:

Ultimately whoever is picked will be told the shirt is yours, you perform and you will be in the team for the Barnsley game – that needs to be a massive motivation for those coming in.

So will the manager keep his word and reward players that made the difference earlier this week? The likes of Lynden Gooch and Robbin Ruiter will certainly be hoping that is the case after both players turned in performances of the highest quality, and essentially ensured victory for their side. Gooch was in wonderland after bagging his first senior goal:

I’ve dreamed of this moment since I was a ten-year-old boy coming over on trail. To finally get that goal was amazing!

Today Grayson’s men face Barnsley away from home, and fans will be intrigued to see if Tuesday’s win will encourage Grayson to give his midweek heroes a chance to carry their cup form over into the league.

New Zealand v United States
Gooch looked impressive earlier in the week, will he be given the chance to impress again?
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Barnsley have started the season poorly and find themselves sitting fourth bottom with one win and three defeats. I think Grayson will be keen for his side to put themselves on the front foot from the off this afternoon, and against Barnsley his side have a chance to do just that.

Grayson will have learned a fair deal from his side’s victory away to Carlisle during the week. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Grayson set out an attacking side in a fluid formation - he will be hoping his men can enter into the international break on a high, and could let them loose against the Tykes.

Barnsley have played something resembling a 4-1-4-1 formation for the majority of their games this season, and it’s unlikely that will change today. If Sunderland can overwhelm their midfield then the likes of Honeyman and McGeady will have more opportunity to get forward and attack a Barnsley defence that had struggled so far this campaign.

This is where Gooch comes into the equation. Playing Gooch in the number 10 role creates a balance and opportunity that Sunderland have perhaps lacked so far this season. In possession the American can push further up the pitch and get into dangerous areas, but when out of possession he could support Ndong and Cattermole in the middle of the park. His grit and determination will be just as important as his flair, and Sunderland can use this to their advantage.

Furthermore, Gooch could also change places with either Honeyman or McGeady adding yet more options to the Sunderland attack, and with Grabban’s pace in front of him, Gooch would be able to find space and look to take the game to the Barnsley defence. After Tuesday’s goal and assist Gooch will be keen to keep his run going - Grayson should oblige.

The close of the transfer window is approaching, and Grayson has mentioned several times that this final week will be a busy one, both in terms of players coming and going from the club.

Today though, the focus will solely focused on those players who take to the field as they look to give over 4,000 travelling away fans something to smile about before the international break bores us all to tears.


Team News

Bryan Oviedo will be retaining his place on the left side of Sunderland’s defence while Love, Matthews and Jones will battle it out for the right-back position. Robbin Ruiter should retain his place between the sticks while Jack Rodwell might make the subs bench after coming through more U23 game time this week.

Predictions

SAFC’s Starting XI: Ruiter, Love, Browning, Kone, Oviedo, Ndong, Cattermole, McGeady, Honeyman, Gooch, Grabban.

Score: I think Grayson will tinker with his line-up somewhat, but will keep the same tactic used against Carlisle earlier this week. Gooch will be on a high after that game, and I think he will be a real menace. I’m going for a 3-0 victory, with Grabban, Gooch and Honeyman bagging the goals.