It’s absolutely not the sort of thing I like to say, especially about a club that is as massive as they are and has a pedigree up there with the best of them, but beating Sunderland at home surely has to be classed as a banker game for us doesn’t it????
I see Tim Sherwood has played the game down somewhat, saying that it’s too early for “must-win” games and I can understand where he’s coming from, in trying to alleviate any pressure on the lads.
But for me, this is just one of those games where if you don’t beat them at home, who do you expect to beat?
Plus Sunderland have a poor record against us recently, which is about right, even though they eventually finished above us last season.
They looked truly shocking at times, particularly in defence; Even worse than us in my opinion and that’s saying something.
Dick Advocaat played a blinder in keeping them up and with 20-20 hindsight, he should have retired at the end of the season, just as he said he was going too, as it would appear he was promised serious money to spend, only for Ellis Short to seemingly go back on that.
I think they’ve spent around £10 million net in the window and you get the feeling that just isn’t enough for a club in their position.
Just to continue the tone about what a mess they’re in, Advocaat pulled the team in for crisis talks after the home defeat to Norwich. Yes, even this early in and just after their second game. If that’s not a team in trouble, I don’t know what is.
Injury news then and Sunderland have Adam Matthews out with an ankle injury.
Adam Johnson has a shoulder injury, but the rest of the squad are fit.
They’ve also just signed Ola Toivenen, a midfielder who could step straight into the team.
As for the Villa, Adama Traore is a bit doubtful and it’ll be a tomorrow morning thing.
Possibly more worryingly, there’s a bug going round Bodymoor Heath and two players, who Sherwood didn’t name, are suffering from it.
My money says Gabby will be one of those two, as he doesn’t really seem to get “dropped”, does he?
Anyway, such is the nature of bugs, so it might affect anyone tomorrow. Let’s hope not, eh?
So, what to think?
Given Sunderland’s awful defence, you’d have to expect that we will go for them, especially with Sherwood’s natural penchant for attack.
Same as many of you, I’d expect Gabby to be “ill” and Sinclair to be rewarded with a start after his midweek exploits, in his place. Probably combined with Gestede, as an aerial threat should achieve something against a poor defence.
The only question to ask is based around the midfield and we have a fair choice there, so perm any combo you like, although I’d expect Grealish and Traore to start, if fit.
Sanchez sits as the holder and the defence probably speaks for itself, although they’ll need to be on their toes as Defoe still looks very potent on his day.
While I’ll be content with a 1-0 win, I certainly won’t be happy.
I expect an emphatic win, let’s say by two goals.
3-1 it is then, as I always think we’re likely to concede.
Although predicting a win worries me after the last few seasons, I have to admit.
How many times have I done so and it’s gone against us?
As for Jolien Lescott, it’s looking likely he’s coming and that’s a decent signing for me, especially at the money we’re talking about (around £1 mill or so).
And just as Sherwood says he doesn’t expect anyone in, so I think we’re still in the hunt for a striker.
We’ll see, no doubt.