Fulham appeared increasingly happy with a point despite their potent strike force of Dempsey and Zamora, who was replaced by Andrew Johnson with just over 30 min of the game remaining. What is it with the 0-0 draws between these sides?
Steve Bruce must have envied Jol’s attacking options with Zamora ironically being selected for England with both Danny Welbeck and Darren Bent, highly potent strikers who were available for The Lads a year ago, along with Asamoah Gyan. No point in looking back though, tempting as it is.
There are two pieces of good news, however – the defence looks sound, with Turner and Brown looking increasingly solid at the back, ably assisted by Bardsley and O’Shea at full back. Michael Turner is improving game by game after his nightmare injury against Everton last year and that long lay-off. Speaking personally, I like Turner; he has great aerial presence, tackles superbly and is an intelligent player. He communicates well with the rest of the defence, and has a good attitude, which was certainly in evidence both at Old Trafford and in the Fulham game – a clean sheet is always good.
Westwood is performing well in goal, and even as our apparent 3rd choice he inspires confidence in those in front of him. We also look more solid at the back with Catts protecting the defence in his inimitable fashion.
The other promising news is on the attacking side; Seb Larsson will be available for the next home game again Wigan, and young striker Fraizer Campbell is returning to full fitness. We also know that Connor Wickham, who impressed against Villa, is not a long term casualty. The Swedish international, who joined on a Bosman in the summer has been an excellent addition to the midfield, and aside from being our current top scorer, he also provides a real threat with his deliveries into the box, and excellent free kicks.
Steve Bruce commented: “Seb’s at the stage with us where, if he’s fit, he plays. He has really established himself in the side quickly and he’ll definitely come back into the team on Saturday because he offers us something that no-one else provides. It’s not just the fact that he scores goals, it’s also the attacking threat he gives us from crosses, free-kicks and corners. We’re a better team with him in it, simple as that.”
I have also read Sunderland manager Steve Bruce is considering giving Kieran Richardson an attacking midfield role in an attempt to bolster our goal threat
Wigan's James McCarthy is apparently a doubt with a groin problem, and Franco Di Santo will also be assessed after missing the last game with a thigh injury. Antolin Alcaraz serves the second game of a three-match ban. I have been impressed by Wigan coming forward the times I have seen them this season, but we won 4-2 in the corresponding game earlier in the year. That day Jordan Henderson starred with a driving performance and 2 goals. We miss him, but this is not a time for looking backwards, as pointed out.
We have the talented players we have, there is a goal threat from many players, not least Sessegnon and Bendtner, and this is a game we simply must win, with all due respect to Wigan. The longer we stay on 2 wins for the season, the worse the situation will become in terms of pressure on the team. They need to "man up" and win...we simply need those 3 points!
©Lars J.S. Knutsen