Sunday, 29 August 2010

Sunderland preview

The last game before the international break, and an opportunity to complete a very satisfactory first chapter in the season. So far we've had four games, three wins, one very important draw and no goals conceded. A continuation of those trends today and we can look back on a pace-setting start.

For the second time in three years our third league match of the season is at the Stadium of Light. We went there in August 2008, in that very strange late summer period just before the Abu Dhabi takeover. It was Shaun Wright-Phillips' second debut, and he scored twice in a 3-0 win. It was also Vincent Kompany's second game in blue, and the fact that most of the rest of the team has changed in the interim is testament to his character and quality.

We got a decent point there last year as well, thanks to the contribution of another English winger; Adam Johnson curled in a stoppage time equaliser that had just a hint of the Ronaldinho in Shizuoka about it. In fact, with five wins and that draw in our last six league meetings with them, we are to Sunderland what Spurs or Everton are to us.

I imagine we will see a consistency of selection from the Liverpool game. I'd dearly love to see David Silva from the start but there is no point in changing that midfield that did so well on Monday. Emmanuel Adebayor probably thinks he ought to start but I don't think he has a legitimate greivance. Mancini has little desire to break up the Nigel de Jong - Gareth Barry - Yaya Touré triangle at the heart of the team, which means we can only afford to play one up. There is a question surrounding the full-backs: we can't play all three, and I don't know who will survive.

Sunderland have not had too impressive a start and so I am confident about today's outcome. It might not be too pretty but I think we can win: 1-0.

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