Just how do you bounce back from a humiliating 8-0 defeat? This is the conundrum that will have plagued Gus Poyet’s restless nights this week as, despite the squad’s generous offer to refund the hardy travelling fans that suffered last weekend’s appalling mauling at the hands of Southampton, the embarrassment of that result still rankles.
In an ideal world you certainly wouldn’t want to be coming up against Arsenal, that’s for sure. Whilst the Gunners have not exactly been in scintillating from of late in the Premier League, with a disappointing draw with Hull last time out, the remarkable comeback in the Champions League in Belgium against Anderlecht will have gone some way to boost morale you would have thought.
With so many individual errors in the St. Mary’s horror show it is difficult to know where to start when you put yourself in Poyet’s shoes approaching this game.
The usually dependable Vito Mannone surely finds his starting position in doubt following an uncharacteristically awful performance, however I’m yet to be convinced by his replacement, Costel Panitlimon, particularly in the recent Capital One Cup against Stoke City where the giant ‘keeper looked far from convincing. If given the nod, it would be the Romanian’s Premier League debut for the Black Cats.
Ahead of the goalkeeper, Wes Brown was so spectacularly poor in the first half, which says a hell of a lot when you think about it, that he was hauled off at half time. You therefore have to doubt whether the former Manchester United man will return to the fold this weekend, especially as the club have moved to bring in free agent Anthony Reveillere on a deal until the end of the season. The former French international can be expected to fill the right-back spot as Billy Jones continues to struggle for fitness, which will allow own goal-scorer extraordinaire Santiago Vergini to partner John O’Shea in the heart of defence.
Will Buckley refuted claims that the Sunderland players “surrendered” last weekend and for that ridiculous suggestion alone I would consider dropping the wideman as he is clearly suffering from an acute bout of psychosis.
Adam Johnson is the obvious candidate to replace the former Brighton winger and Poyet will be hoping that the recent exclusion of Johnson will have served as enough motivation to coax a performance out of the former England international, however frustrations over his lack of sustained influence and impact on a game has rather been the story of Johnson’s Sunderland career to date, which is disappointing given his obvious talent.
Rodwell is likely to return to the fold, however exactly what he brings to the party is unclear if I’m being honest. A performance of any kind from the midfielder would be a welcome change.
Truth be told, regardless of last weekend’s result, Sunderland are highly unlikely to win tomorrow afternoon. However, the very least that is expected, if not demanded, is some fight and dare I say it, effort.