Today’s trip to take on Millwall could potentially see Sunderland pitted against a player who has been a thorn in our side on many an occasion over the years.
Tim Cahill rejoined the Lions earlier in the year and his record against Sunderland is phenomenal. Making 16 appearances and scoring eight goals, the Australian is yet to taste defeat against the side currently bottom of the championship pile.
The first cruel blow struck against Sunderland by Cahill was undoubtedly the 2004 FA Cup Semi final. He broke Mackem hearts with his headed winner for the Lions at Old Trafford to dump us out of the cup and send his side through to the final against Manchester United.
Personally, I don’t remember a great deal of the aftermath of this match. To me, it was just a reference for every time Cahill would score after. ‘Aye, remember when he knocked us out the semis of the FA Cup?’ - a phrase often accompanying an image of the Australian wheeling away in celebration.
He was part of that Everton side who over a number of years would beat us comfortably on a regular basis - along with Mikel Arteta we could always count on these players to guide the Toffees past us. Even at our lowest point in the doomed 15-points season the Aussie couldn’t keep from the headlines as he bagged a late winner for Everton at the Stadium of Light.
Cahill has always been a player who, if named in the match day squad, you’d just know he’d have some impact on the game. Who can forget the 7-1 demolition at Goodison? Cahill, Arteta, Pieenar and co took us to pieces and the Cahill in particular was sickeningly clinical.
So will Cahill’s rich form continue when we visit the Den?
If he starts - which is incredibly unlikely as he’s struggling for fitness and thus far has been restricted to a role from the bench - then we undoubtedly will have a tough player to deal with.
Since leaving the Premier League he has gone on to play around the world, including a stint back in his native Australia. Having played all over the world at various levels of football he brings with him a wealth of important experience, which is why he will be a fantastic asset for Millwall. They shouldn’t need to worry about relegation; they seemingly have nothing to lose today.
The addition of the ageing attacker to their ranks will make Millwall a slightly trickier side to tackle for the remainder of this season.
He may be getting on a bit but Tim Cahill is a player who will always have a technical edge over many of his rivals. His history when playing against us proves that he gets himself up for the games against Sunderland, and if he brings the dreaded ruthless form that many of our fans associate with him then Millwall could well hammer another nail in our coffin lid.
Cahill is likely to retire from professional football once this summer’s World Cup is over and done with, and a return to the club where he made his name will undoubtedly give him the motivation to succeed and get himself fit against this summer’s tournament.
This could well be our final chance to get one over on a player who throughout his long and storied career has never tasted defeat against Sunderland. Whatever the case, it’s important to recognise what an incredible pain in our arse this man has been over many years - here’s hoping that we can finally put an end to that run with a victory this afternoon in our nation’s capital.