Time to move away from the Young Jack eulogising and onto some proper English PL football, and there are few grounds more suited to a return to earth than the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland is a fine town with a fine history. It has one of the lowest incomes per head in the UK and yet almost 40,000 people go to watch their home games (5k more than Spurs!) They love their team and their football.
Martin O’Neill has had problems getting the Black Cats to gel. Rarely have I seen a more frustrated figure on the sidelines because whatever one thinks of MoN, he is a passionate man and gives his all to his clubs. Many moons ago Gooners were calling for him to replace Mr Wenger – insanity runs deep amongst our fans.
Sadly, Sunderland fans are not getting to see much artistry on the pitch (apart from the opposition). They are struggling for goals and rely more on sweat than inspiration. The huge fee paid for Fletcher and the signing of Danny Graham is an indication of their need for some fire power and gumption ,though I have long admired both Sessegnon and Larsson. It is always good to see an ex-Gunner who has been Wengered succeed and Larsson has had a fine career – shame he likes to score against us!
After a short injury-free period we have players queuing for the treatment table. Late fitness tests on much of the defence means Raddy’s line-up could be drastically affected. There is also a fear that Theo was limping after the Brazil game.
Runners & Riders:
Given the amount of time our Internationals were on the pitch midweek, we may well see some changes.
Diaby could start as his stature is important defensively, but who gets dropped? Dare we play without Pod and have a 4 man midfield with Santi taking the left side attacking berth?
It will be interesting to see how Monreal copes with Adam Johnson who is finally showing some form.
Todays explorer: Sir James Clark Ross (1800 – 1862). You may think it is cold outside, particularly if you are going to the game but today is almost tropical compared to the norm for Sir Ross; an Arctic and Antarctic explorer in the days of wooden ships. As a young man Ross went North with his Uncle, Sir William Parry to search for the fabled North-West Passage and here he fell in love with polar exploration. Upon promotion to Captain he took his ship, the Erebus, to the Antarctic which he surveyed extensively becoming, at that time, the furthest South man had travelled.
I name this picture The Ross Icon
Sir James discovered Ross Bay, James Ross Island, the Ross Sea, the Ross Ice Shelf, Victoria Island, Mount Erebus & Mt. Terror. He returned to England a hero, dying in Blackheath at the age of 61.
On paper we should win this game. Should the defence stay focussed and disciplined we will be fine, but they will not get the easy game they had vs Stoke. With Danny Graham playing his first game at the SoL, Sunderland will be looking for 3 points. But so will we….