Matt Smith says...
On a purely psychological level, a win would increase the pressure on Wigan and Rotherham to win their game(s) in hand. We know from recent experience how difficult that can be. The Covid postponements, and both teams’ continued involvement in cup competitions, make it even more of a challenge for chasing sides this season.
Still, I’d say a draw against Wycombe would be a perfectly decent result. Before we visit Wigan at the end of February there are a few potentially challenging home games against the likes of Portsmouth and MK Dons but our home form and the lack of obvious threats in our away fixtures mean we can be confident of fairly rich pickings from our January and February fixtures.
The main thing I’d like to see against Wycombe is for us to continue to put our faith in our own style of play to get a result. They’ll try to drag us into a stop-start dogfight but we have the quality, and confidence from our recent performances, to rise above that.
Maybe we’ll need to be more judicious in deploying our high pressing game and we’ll need greater focus on communication and organisation when defending set pieces but, by and large, I want to see us focus on the threat we can pose rather than a tactical masterclass in neutralising their threat.
Joseph Tulip says...
Saturday is another opportunity for us to stamp our authority on League One. Yes, Wigan will have games in hand but they still have to win them if they want to overtake us.
Wycombe are up there in fourth but we go into this game in better form, and it’s a chance for us to show once again that we mean business. We’re getting used to praise from commentators on Sky for our style of play and Lee Johnson will want us to put in another good display in front of the Sky cameras.
Of course we want to win and should aim to pick three points. Playing for a draw would be negative and goes against our current attacking approach, but if it ends in a stalemate, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Top of the table games are six pointers, so it’s not one we want to lose.
I think our players are enjoying themselves, they seem to have really benefited from the Arsenal experience and they will be looking forward to this one.
A word of caution, however. While some of our injured players are starting to return, Covid remains a huge issue in football as it does in wider society. Let’s not underestimate the task in hand while the safety of our players, staff and fans remains the number one priority.
Gary Engel says...
We need to keep our foot firmly on the gas this weekend. In previous seasons we’ve left ourselves with far too much to do late in the season once we’ve hit the skids.
Psychologically, we haven’t been up to the task and have fallen away when it has mattered most. The fans have had enough of those kinds of failures and have collectively reached the conclusion that points on the board are worth much more than games in hand.
The last couple of matches have showed the league what we are capable of, if we can beat Wycombe on Saturday, it would not only prove our pre-New Year’s form was not just a flash in the pan, but it would send a real message of intent.
Sunderland is in the process of strengthening the squad, but that can also unsettle things too which we all hope doesn’t happen. I’m already rather cautious missing the chance to play Fleetwood while we were on such a high note.
Sunderland have not been in this kind of position or form since we were relegated from the Championship and need to keep up our momentum, not changing things too much but showing a close rival what our attack is capable of. In the coming weeks, I’d rather Sunderland be top of the league looking down, rather than be in the middle of the play-off pack chasing an automatic place. Johnson’s men have been coming of age over the last couple of months, let's hope that only continues through January, starting Saturday!
Michael Dunne says...
We are in a good place in the league now and the Christmas wins that we have earned along with some teams dropping points has left us in a stronger position than anticipated.
Of course, Saturday's game is a big one - both teams are right in the mix, and with it being on TV, it adds an extra edge.
It would be somewhat naive to suggest that this game is a must-win. It most certainly isn’t. No matter what the result is on Saturday, Sunderland have shown their potential enough to suggest they are going to be there or thereabouts.
Performance is important though. I would like to see Sunderland continue with the momentum they showed against Sheffield Wednesday. They have played some of their best football in recent weeks and some players have returned to form - and if they continue with the style of play they’ve shown, it won't leave us far away from the win.
The saying ‘Hammer the hammer’ comes to mind. It would be a sign of intent if the lads could get the win.
That being said, it is not necessary. Wycombe are also a decent team. If we get a draw, I think it is an acceptable result.