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January 29, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 01/29/2012

So tomorrow the Boro’ fans have to make an early start on Sunday morning and several thousand of them will make the trip to the Stadium of Light. This their biggest Derby game and I for one hope to see our southern neighbours back in the Premiership soon.

I loved the BBC write-up for this game: This is only the fifth time they have been drawn to meet in the FA Cup. Sunderland have progressed three times, and Middlesbrough once. The most recent was a 3-1 win by the Teesside club in the fourth round in January 1975 at Ayresome Park. Maths GCSE anybody?

Posted by Lars Knutsen on 01/29/2012

Swansea put in a refreshing performance at the stadium of Light, but ultimately capitulated after two excellent goals from the home team.

Sunderland welcomed back Wes Brown in the following line-up: 22 Mignolet, 02 Bardsley, 05 Brown, 11 Richardson, 16 O'Shea, 06 Cattermole, 07 Larsson (Elmohamady 89), 15 Vaughan (Gardner 78), 23 McClean, 28 Sessegnon, 52 Bendtner (Wickham 12). The visitors fielded 01 Vorm, 02 Williams, 03 Taylor, 04 Caulker, 22 Rangel, 07 Britton (Routledge 78), 11 Sinclair, 12 Dyer, 24 Allen, 42 Sigurdsson (McEachran 66), 10 Graham.

January 27, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 01/27/2012

Sunderland’s 2011 started really well, and then also ended on a high. I will try to explain some of the dross that was served up in between in the paragraphs below, but let me first take you back a year.

We entered January 2011 in 6th spot in the league, then in May finished the 2010-11 Premiership season in 10th, and actually also ended the year in 10th spot. So what was the problem? That all sounds fine and dandy, but some total junk was served up in between, with just 6 wins recorded in the best league in the world up from February 1st until Steve Bruce’s departure. The longsuffering home fans had to suffer most, and we went 9 games with just a single home win from early January 2011 until the end of the season.

January 23, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 01/23/2012

This was an exciting but ultimately fruitless visit to the capital where Sunderland matched the home team on all fronts except on the most crucial one, taking our chances.

Nicklas Bendtner returned to the Black Cats’ squad at Chelsea, after a knee injury which kept him out of the FA Cup win at Peterborough. Fellow front man Fraizer Campbell is close to full fitness and available for the first time since August 2010 after recovering from two serious knee injuries. Jack Colback, Wes Brown, Titus Bramble and Craig Gordon remain on the casualty list. The visitors’ line-up was 22 Mignolet, 02 Bardsley, 11 Richardson (Wickham 80), 12 Kilgallon (Turner 45+1), 16 O'Shea, 06 Cattermole, 07 Larsson, 15 Vaughan (Gardner 69), 23 McClean, 28 Sessegnon, 52 Bendtner. Subs were 20 Westwood, 04 Turner, 08 Gardner, 18 Meyler, 27 Elmohamady, 10 Wickham, 17 Ji Dong-Won.

Florent Malouda dropped to the bench for Chelsea, as he did not train on Wednesday or Thursday. Daniel Sturridge and John Terry were both passed fit but the game came too soon for Michael Essien, Branislav Ivanovic and John Obi Mikel. Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou are away on African Nations Cup duty, in the following team: 01 Cech, 03 Cole, 04 David Luiz, 17 Bosingwa, 26 Terry, 06 Romeu, 07 Ramires, 08 Lampard (Essien 73), 16 Meireles, 09 Torres, Mata (Malouda 85).

January 12, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 01/12/2012

Sunderland welcomed back Phil Bardsley in another one-off defensive formation in the following line-up: Mignolet, Gardner, O'Shea, Kilgallon, Bardsley, Larsson, Richardson, Cattermole, Vaughan, McClean, Sessègnon. Subs: Westwood, Turner, Wickham, Ji, Meyler, Elmohamady, Noble. Great to see Turner back on the bench, but clearly Bendtner was being “rested” for this key away fixture, with Connor Wickham being on hand for an appearance should his muscle be required upfront..

The Peterborough line up was: Lewis, Alcock, Bennett, Zakuani, Rowe, Tunnicliffe, Wootton, Tomlin, Boyd, Sinclair, Taylor. Subs: Jones, Little, Newell, Thompson, Kearns, Gordon-Hutton, Lawler.

January 8, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 01/08/2012

For today’s challenging game at Peterborough United Sunderland will likely miss out on the help of defenders Wes Brown (groin), Titus Bramble (Achilles/calf) and Phil Bardsley (thigh) who are all doubtful as the team chases its third successive win. Aside from long-term casualties Craig Gordon and Fraizer Campbell, 3rd choice keeper Keiren Westwood, Jack Colback (ankle), Connor Wickham (knee) and midfielder Sebastian Larsson are out. Look for O'Neill to include young players such as Meyler and MacLean.

Posted by Lars Knutsen on 01/08/2012

Another game, another excellent win for Sunderland. This match-up with Wigan provided our second 4-goal haul against them over the past year, and there were some great strikes among these latest goals. But most importantly this win demonstrated the new levels of confidence now running through this admittedly injury-hit squad. Teamwork is at a high, and after a few wins the speculative efforts tried by the Black Cats are ending up as goals – 3 of yesterday’s were unstoppably in the top corner of the goal.
As well as long-term injured Craig Gordon and Fraizer Campbell, Sunderland had fitness concerns over Michael Turner, Keiren Westwood, Titus Bramble, Phil Bardsley, Seb Larsson, Kieran Richardson and Jack Colback. The line up was.22 Mignolet, 11 Richardson (Meyler 67), 12 Kilgallon, 16 O'Shea, 06 Cattermole, 08 Gardner (Elmohamady 83), 14 Colback, 15 Vaughan, 23 McClean (Ji Dong-Won 89), 28 Sessègnon, 52 Bendtner.

The Wigan line-up was 26 Al Habsi, 02 Gohouri, 03 Alcaraz, 23 Stam (Sammon 58), 31 Figueroa, 04 McCarthy, 07 Crusat (Moses 39), 08 Watson (Diame 86), 14 Gomez, 19 Jones, 20 Rodallega

January 3, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 01/03/2012

All I can say, with 40000+ at the SSOL, a worldwide audience including the people in the pub where I saw this game, where Spurs fans were cheering Sunderland on, is WOW! This was a compelling, absorbing and astounding game of football. I suspect Martin O’Neill watched the tape from last campaign’s early season win over Manchester City and duplicated the tactics. Hopefully the whole squad saw that game again.

Sunderland were again severely hampered by injury and illness, which made this performance so much more immense. Turner, Campbell and Gordon were injured, then Westwood and Richardson reported in sick. Our Belgian keeper was forced back into duty with a Robocop-style mask on, in the following line-up: 22 Mignolet, 05 Brown (Kilgallon 26), 16 O'Shea, 06 Cattermole, 07 Larsson, 08 Gardner, 14 Colback, 15 Vaughan (Elmohamady 82), 23 McClean, 28 Sessegnon, 52 Bendtner (Ji Dong-Won 78).

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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