soccernet blog
August 27, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 08/27/2011

A miserable week then for Sunderland fans – games which we would feel we could have won, but we lost both 1-0. Games in which we had the chances to score, and at home against Newcastle the Black Cats dominated the first half, without really having the conviction to notch that vital goal or two. In the end Newcastle proved themselves to be a compact outfit, and what for them was a must-win game was surrendered by the home team.

August 19, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 08/19/2011

Sunderland look well-equipped to bring home the bacon in Saturday’s exciting derby. Steve Bruce’s team selection will be anybody’s guess, but I don’t see the need for major changes given last weekend’s excellent showing at Liverpool.

Derby games are not about logic and well-reasoned arguments, in fact football never is. Saturday is about raw emotion, and a neat analysis of the potential line-ups does not seem to hit the spot somehow.

August 16, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 08/16/2011

What do I mean by a “solid performance”? I mean we saw a team with such self-belief that even when things aren’t going their way, they can hold on, dig deep and wait for the flow of the game to change. The first half hour of Saturday’s game was nearly all Liverpool, but Sunderland survived some scrapes, and came back to dominate the second half.

August 14, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 08/14/2011

A solid performance and in the end a deserved point against much-fancied Liverpool, with Steve Bruce feeling the more satisfied of the two managers at the end of the game, and like last season, we came back into the game after falling behind early on.

Bruce had opted what was for me a surprise line-up, with the following selection: Mignolet, Bardsley, Brown, Richardson, Ferdinand, Cattermole. Larsson, Colback, Elmohamady, Sessegnon, Gyan. Subs. Westwood, Bramble, Laing, Gardner, Vaughan, Wickham, Ji. The defensive line-up was unexpected with Richardson at left back, Bardsley on the right, plus Brown and Ferdinand at centre-back. The midfield had an unusual look to it, but no surprises up front. Overall, just 2 of our 10 new signings started the game. Opponents Liverpool gave debuts to 4 players – Adam, Downing, Enrique and Henderson.

August 11, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 08/11/2011

How does one preview the first game when there has been close to a 50% squad turnover in the close season? It is nigh on impossible, but the core, the backbone of the team has remained unchanged in many ways. We will have Gyan as the main predator, Sessegnon picking up the pieces, Cattermole tapping at everyone’s heels and a Bramble/Turner centre back pairing, and after looking at the recently-revealed squad numbers, Craig Gordon between the sticks, provided he stays fit.

It appears that John O'Shea will not feature (hamstring), but look for Wes Brown at right back, and he will be motivated against the red half of Merseyside. But since we do not know Bruce's best team, aside from the back four, I will not guess the complete line-up

Lars Knutsen Lars Knutsen was born in Sunderland of Norwegian parents across the Wear from the SSOL back when shipbuilding not car manufacture was the city’s main industry. His first game was in 1968 and he has followed the Black Cats since then, with great memories of the 1973 FA Cup. He hopes the “yo-yo” days are over and defines supporting a team by whether the result affects your mood (but maybe not in the way portrayed in the book “Fever Pitch”!) so has been cheerful recently. He endured school in Newc**tle, has a Ph.D. in Chemistry, a Professorship at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, and works in the Pharma industry as a consultant Medicinal Chemist.

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