I’d just like to get my excuses in early for when interim manager Andrew Taylor changes formation and makes half-a-dozen changes from the side which started Phil Parkinson’s final game in charge.
I didn’t even know Andrew Taylor was a Sunderland coach until Parkinson’s dismissal was announced on Sunday evening, and I have no idea whether or not he was a supporter of Phil Parkinson’s preference for five-man defence. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
One place where it would be weird to change things up for the man in temporary charge is in goal. Andrew Taylor is likely to only be manager for two games, and we all saw in Sunderland’s relegation year from the Championship that constant rotation of a side’s goalkeepers doesn’t end well.
If Taylor is to be an adequate custodian of the squad for the next couple of outings, the goalkeeper is a position he should leave alone.
CB: McLaughlin CB: Wright CB: Flanagan RWB: O'Nien LWB: McFadzean
I have to admit I was tempted to predict a switch away from five at the back for tonight’s game, until I realised it would be harsh to drop Conor McLaughlin instead of Tom Flanagan and the former Millwall fullback cannot be expected to play at centre-half in a four man defence.
One position I do expect Taylor to change is left wing back, where Denver Hume looked knackered on Friday night, and Callum McFadzean has probably shown enough to warrent a start in the League.
The rest of the defence picks itself to be quite honest - Luke O’Nien is the only option at wing back unless Jack Diamond plays out of position, whilst Wright and Flanagan are our only fit centre backs.
CM: Scowen CM: Leadbitter CM: Embleton
In midfield, Phil Parkinson demonstrated all of his stubbornness by shifting Chris Maguire back into the left of a trio instead of brining in Elliot Embleton to, you know, play in his proper position.
That being said, new boss Taylor specifically mentioned that Josh Scowen will be available despite a black eye, and Grant Leadbitter has done nothing to suggest that he is anything other than Sunderland’s best option at the base of midfield.
Combine this with Embleton’s eventual inclusion and I’m predicting the same midfield I predicted on Friday - let’s hope this time I’m right.
ST: Wyke ST: Maguire
Up front, Danny Graham continued his admirable effort to be completely hopeless every time he pulls on a Sunderland shirt with an anonymous display at Highbury on Friday night.
With Embleton in midfield, I’m predicting that Chris Maguire retains his place in the side to partner Sunderland’s most prolific striker of all time (to undergo a hair transplant) Charlie Wyke.