Andy Thompson says…
Realistically, I think four to six points would be a reasonable return.
Anything more than six would be a bonus and would really cement our promotion ambitions, whereas anything less than four points would probably have to be seen as a disappointment.
Stoke are in awful form but with Alex Neil in charge and fighting for his job, this could be a banana skin fixture, and whether he can get his team up for the game remains to be seen.
I’m sure the ‘Sunderland factor’ will add some extra verve for Neil as well as Lynden Gooch, but as the form table stands, they have a lot of work to do to get something from the game.
Leicester look like they may have the league sewn up already without really setting the world alight.
I feel like we’ll give them a good game and it would be interesting to see how we play. It’s a litmus test for this squad to see how far they’ve come over the past two years, and if we have any aspirations of cementing a playoff place this season, we have to turn up in these type of games.
Finally, it depends which version of Norwich turn up. I saw them demolish a toothless Huddersfield team in the flesh and they looked very slick in attack, however they’ve also been recently beaten by a very poor Rotherham team.
In reality, I’m really enjoying watching this young Sunderland team play. It feels like we’ve been competitive in every fixture and we look solid defensively.
I’d like us to be a bit more ruthless up top but we are creating plenty of chances. I’m hoping for more of the same over these next few games and hopefully a decent points haul too, as well as stepping up our attacking play a gear or two.
Anthony Gair says…
A good question.
Stoke are our perennial bogey team and have been since about 1995, so beating them would be an incredible feat.
Obviously we also have the added factor of our ex-gaffer managing them, and some of our fans are still irked by Alex Neil’s departure and therefore have it in for the Scotsman.
Leicester are flying, and our young squad will have to be at their best to beat a side with the quality of the Foxes. If we can get a point, which we’re definitely capable of doing, I imagine we’d be a happy camp.
As far as the friendly cup coming back around, I like Norwich but they’re not what they used to be and will definitely be beatable on the day. Loads of things can happen between now and then, but I’d expect us to come out of that with three points.
Adding it all up, I reckon seven points is very possible, but don’t be surprised if we only come out with three or four.
Malc Dugdale says…
I’d like six points and ideally more, but more than six has to be acknowledged as a big ask, so I’d love us to beat Stoke and get one back on our Scottish former head coach.
They haven’t won at home in the league since August, meaning Dan Neil’s uncle Alex has them sitting fourth from bottom and he may well be at risk of losing his job if things don’t improve.
Getting Neil sacked after how he left us and with a good pasting would be so bang on for me, especially after the Middlesbrough game, which I’m certain we’ll bounce back from.
Let’s hope our reaction to that shocking refereeing performance at home can begin at Stoke, and I also think we can do well against Norwich, who’ve only won one of their last five.
As mentioned by others, they aren’t the force of recent seasons and when we’re on our game, we’re very hard to overcome. They won’t park the bus either, so hopefully our attack will prevail in the space we have.
Clearly we’ll have our work cut out against Leicester, especially at their gaff on a Tuesday night, but then I expected us to have a torrid time against all the ex-Premier League teams, and we put Southampton to the sword with grace and ease.
Six points from Norwich and Stoke plus anything extra from Leicester and I’ll be satisfied with these games. Seven points with a draw away at the Foxes, and the loss at home to Boro will be a distant memory.