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.
Look for Meyler to start and for Elmohamady to feature at some point and make an impact in midfield in an attacking formation.
Bolton boss Owen Coyle will run the rule over his walking wounded. The manager stated that another 6 players picked up knocks in Tuesday’s 2-1 win at Aston Villa, including midfielders Chris Eagles, Ryo Miyaichi and Mark Davies, with none training yesterday. Darren Pratley has missed the last two matches through illness. As a club, Bolton are still awaiting FIFA clearance to play winger Gregg Wylde following his move from Rangers.
This is a great chance for Sunderland to get back on track after some indifferent attacking displays (last 5 league matches: Sunderland D D L D D; Bolton W L L D W) and this is a chance to complete our third double of the season after Stoke and QPR. We completed an elusive double last year (Bolton 1 Sunderland 2, Sunderland 1 Bolton 0), as we did in 2009-10.
I’d be happy with 1-0 to be honest…
PS: I was rather surprised by the vociferous and rather negative response from Newc**tle fans to my tongue-in-cheek article "Newcastle is indeed located in Scotland". I had to censor some of the more abusive postings…but I suppose there are some things one cannot joke about...like geography and league positions!
©Lars J.S. Knutsen
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