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Sunderland
April 28, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 04/28/2012

The result of today’s game will depend on 3 factors: who wants it more, which Sunderland team shows up, the one that demolished QPR and almost won at Man. City and how the new midfield functions for the Black Cats.

Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill will be without several key players. Midfielder Craig Gardner is suspended following his sending-off at Aston Villa, while Kieran Richardson and Sebastian Larsson both went under the knife this week for hernias and miss the rest of the season. Skipper Lee Cattermole could return to the midfield, after battling a persistent knee problem; he is subject to a late fitness test. We still of course have defenders Brown and Bramble missing.

April 27, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 04/27/2012

The game vs. Aston Villa on Saturday was a solid performance from Sunderland. Aside from the first 10 minutes the team rarely looked like conceding, and the goal by Bendtner that was disallowed for offside would have been given on most other days. I also felt that James McLean has been off colour recently, and he was also wasting chances in this crucial match. There is no doubt that Martin O’Neill’s comments after the game were right on the money, and we should have won the game.

I feel sorry for Villa, and sympathise with the situation they are in. They have had to sell some very good players such as Ashley Young and Stuart Downing. The injury to key players Darren Bent was devastating for them, and I do not blame them for signing our top striker. I still blame him for walking, though. The Petrov situation is obviously also hanging over them.

April 21, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 04/21/2012

The big question for Saturday is: will Sunderland pull themselves out of their collective funk and win at Aston Villa? Craig Gardner and manager Martin O’Neill both have incentives to impress against their old club – and so does Phil Bardsley, who had 13 games with them under O’Neill in a loan deal when the Scottish International was at Man. Utd.
Sunderland are likely to be without our talismanic captain Lee Cattermole, but on the positive side John O'Shea may return to the team for the first time in a month, with Matt Kilgallon possibly making way for the Irish defender.

Apparently our chairman and owner Ellis Short has set manager Martin O'Neill the target of a top-6 finish in the Premier League next season. This will require some investment, especially in our strike force, but it does not sound too crazy when one considers we just had 2 wins up to the Northern Irishman’s arrival in December.

April 16, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 04/16/2012

For Saturday's game the weather was quite warm, but there was a strong wind and the players were showing signs of perspiration rather than inspiration.

Sunderland welcomed back Richardson and Bendtner, in the following line-up: 22 Mignolet, 02 Bardsley, 04 Turner, 11 Richardson, 12 Kilgallon, 07 Larsson, 08 Gardner (Campbell - 78'), 14 Colback, 23 McClean, 28 Sessegnon, 52 Bendtner.

Wolves came to scrap, as their season would have been over with a defeat. It’s pretty well over for them anyway, and that can have a positive effect on a team, when the tension goes and the pressure is off. We forget that Wolves won their first three games this season, and they have been a bogey side to Sunderland in the past couple of years.

They featured: 01 Hennessey, 05 Stearman, 11 Ward, 16 Berra, 32 Foley (Zubar - 82'), 07 Kightly (Edwards - 76'), 08 Henry, 26 Davis, 37 Forde (Jarvis - 61'), 09 Ebanks-Blake, 10 Fletcher.

April 14, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 04/14/2012

We need a lift after 3 games without a win. Tough games against top teams, but after the heights of scoring 3 goals and almost holding on for an amazing win at Man. City, we played well but drew a blank against Spurs, and had a thoroughly miserable day at Everton when we almost blew our positive goal difference. OK, I had one commenter who said I was stating the blindingly obvious, but this is my blog and I blog what I feel – and as a team we definitely need a pick-up.

April 13, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 04/13/2012

I am pretty sure that these past few games have been an education for Martin O’Neill. The matches have been coming thick and fast, and we drew a blank scoring-wise against both Spurs and Everton.

April 7, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 04/07/2012

Sunderland’s cross-Tyne neighbours put Spurs under pressure to perform at the SSOL by winning at Swansea, who were the North Londoners’ victims last week in what has become a 3-match losing run for the Welsh newcomers to the top League.

Richardson may be back for Sunderland – he always seems to play well against Spurs. What will Martin O’Neill decide to do with the side that played so well last week? Why change a team that came away with a point from the Etihad for the first time since February 2011.

Bridge could also return, but Colback did well in his place last time out. Cattermole will face a late test on his knee. Our injury list is just Angeleri (knee), Bramble (Achilles), Brown (knee), Westwood (hand), O'Shea (calf).

Spurs are missing Gomes (knee), Dawson (ankle), Bentley (knee), Jenas (Achilles), Huddlestone (ankle). Ledley King (knee) and Aaron Lennon (hamstring) may still feature.

April 6, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 04/06/2012

Make no mistake, this was a stunning performance by Sunderland; one of the best, if not the best of the season. Forget the 4-0 over Stoke, 2-0 over Arsenal, the 4-1 at Wigan or the previous win over Manchester City on New Year’s Day, this was as convincing as any performance this season, partly because it was so much against the odds.

If we had held on for 3-1 at the Etihad, justice would have been done, and the whole day would have been like the 3-0 win at Chelsea 16 months ago, but it was more the style of play and the way in which we took the game to the hosts from the start that impressed. This was eventually the first time Manchester City had dropped a point at home since February, 2011.

We lined up with 22 Mignolet, 02 Bardsley, 04 Turner, 12 Kilgallon (Kyrgiakos - 81'), 06 Cattermole (Vaughan - 90'), 07 Larsson, 08 Gardner, 14 Colback, 23 McClean, 28 Sessegnon, 52 Bendtner.

In what they probably thought would be a canter, City were represented by 25 Hart, 02 Richards (Johnson - 46'), 04 Kompany, 13 Kolarov, 28 K. Toure, 07 Milner (Pizarro - 81'), 21 Silva (Tevez - 58'), 34 De Jong, 42 Y. Toure, 10 Dzeko, 45 Balotelli.

About
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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