Tomorrow’s game brings a raised level of excitement to all Sunderland fans, especially those who remember previous Cup runs, including the most memorable one of 1973 which ended in an amazing victory against the odds. I was young at the time, but that was an incredibly special time.
I also recall a terrific win against Everton in the Premiership;s 1996-7 season, when the young Michael Bridges came on for Craig Russell when the game was pretty even at 1-1. He scored twice late on to send the travelling fans home with an excellent 3-1 win. Peter Reid gave Bridges a new contract the following week, but although the talented striker failed to realise his potential in an injury-affected career, he definitely made an impression that day.
BTW, if your memory of Sunderland games ever fails you, all these stats can be found at: http://www.thestatcat.co.uk
We have to go back a long way for good results against tomorrow's opposition, because our more recent record at Goodison is not so great; in fact we have not won in any the last 15 home and away versus the Toffees.
For tomorrow’s vital game, Sunderland will be without top performers Lee Cattermole and Stephane Sessegnon who were both dismissed against Newcastle. Wing-back Kieran Richardson is still a doubt after missing last week’s win over Liverpool, but hopefully our on-loan striker Nicklas Bendtner, who is on a very good scoring run should recover from a knee injury in time.
For Everton, another ex-Man. Utd man Gibson remains sidelined with a knee injury, and Stephen Pienaar is cup-tied after appearing for Spurs in earlier rounds. Cup games are special, though - they are one-off encounters, but we know how well Everton have been playing, on a 5-match winning run at home.
Everton were stuffed 3-0 though in midweek, and hopefully we will catch them on a bad day. Our form has been very good under Martin O’Neill, with 11 wins in 18, and I am sure he will get the best out of his players tomorrow - this is the FA Cup and we are in it to win it, according to the boss. The Lads are playing with confidence, and I would be happy if McLean could emulate Bridges, at least in this game.
©Lars J.S. Knutsen