Good morning Positives,
All up early and ready for the kick off ? That’s the ticket.
A good opportunity for us to sit astride the top of the PL this afternoon following our visit to the Stadium of the Damned Light. Let us examine the opportunities, and the pitfalls, together.
The home side are in a terrible state. Just two points in nine games, five defeats in the last six PL games, bereft of confidence, already five points behind 17th place Boro and notional safety. Moyes’ stated virtually from the opening day of the season that they are in a relegation “battle”. I think the Scotsman is wrong. From the games I have seen involving Sunlun there is no “battle” in them. In their heads the players seem to have given up already. Checking the record books just one club with two points after nine games has escaped relegation (in case your interested Saints in 98/98 whose 9th PL game and 2nd point came at Highbury). Ten games and two points and no club has ever recovered to stay up. Yes these are bleak, bleak days for the Mackems, on the footballing abyss.
And yet who knows what just one win for Sunderland, one dramatic fighting performance, in front of the Wearside faithful might do ? The only thing Moyes can do is send his boys out to try to find that spark of resistance, that scintilla of pride, and to get some sort of result – any bloody result for them would do in fact. Could Whatmore be this week’s Barrow or Traore !? There will be a full house at the stadium. I anticipate we shall see a desperation in our opponents that will need to be controlled, extinguished and replied to with our brand of incisive, fast and direct Wengerball.
Of our lads I know we await Arsene’s call on the starting line up and whether Giroud will get back in to start or remain on his seat. He has a good record against Sunlun but my feeling is that the Frenchman won’t start and we will stick with Alexis up front. I see also that having rotated the team successfully for the Reading game two injuries have cropped up, Theo and Nacho, who enjoyed a rest in midweek. Whether either will feature I am not sure as Arsene ended a bit vague yesterday, with both restrictions slight. “Late tests” all round apparently. I would be pleased to see the Ox start after a good performance on Wednesday if Theo remains crocked. On a much more positive note, sit down Alabama, Aaron is back and almost certainly will get some action today. I have missed his quality in the final third and if Santi remains side-lined we will rely on the Welshman’s class to open up spaces in and around the box.
I see we have Mr Atkinson with the whistle today. From byword to refereeing controversy and poor calls, three seasons ago, to one of the best officials on the roster. Because the stakes are very high for the Black Cats I fancy he will be busy today.
As you may gather embark on our trip to the North East with some optimism it will be a productive afternoon. Let us therefore settle down to enjoy the game from 12.30 UK time. I shall be giving the fools on Sky hell. For those of you out and about the game is broadcast on Radio 5 Live.
(In case you think that you have missed a day young Stew is organising a very special birthday today and has been excused duties by The Leader. Remember though, the clocks go back an hour tonight).