Oct 25 2012

Match Preview: Stoke City v Sunderland AFC – 27 Oct 2012

I fear for the sanity of Sunderland’s travelling fans, especially when considering that many may be under the influence of the local ale when we play the “Potters”. This risk of confusion is compounded because not only do Stoke play in red and white stripped adidas kits, but their squad is also full of ex-Wearsiders with Sorenson, Delap, Jones, Higginbotham and Whitehead currently in their ranks. You can imagine the risk of confusion for those in a be-fuddled state. Perhaps Stoke should be renamed the ‘Black Cat Cast-Offs’ or am I just being catty.

However, the similarities don’t end there. This is Stokes fifth successive season in the EPL (it’s Sunderland’s sixth) and both are widely considered to be solid mid-table outfits with Stoke sitting in 13th place (Sunderland are 14th) and both clubs on eight points. Their last relative ‘successes’ were FA Cup Final defeats and it seems that both clubs could be twinned, as each are going through a period of transition with their respective fans expecting a top ten finish.

Founded in 1863, Stoke are the oldest team in the Premiership and the second oldest professional football club in the world. Longevity seems to run throughout the club with Tony Pulis occupying the managers’ position for 9 years during the last decade and 1966 World Cup legend, Gordon Banks, being club president. However, this is club with an evolving team and they are now able to call on ex-England ‘Little & Large’ forwards in the form of Michael Owen and Peter Crouch. Their midfield has also undergone a dramatic transformation with the international trio of Charlie Adam, Steven N-Zonzi and Michael Kightly adding much needed guile and craft. It seems that the days of schoolboy javelin champion Rory Delap simply flinging balls into the box may be numbered, although the direct ball remains a key part of their armoury.

But enough of Stoke as Sunderland have their own tactical concerns having only achieved 3 wins in their last 21 games. But it gets worse, with fewer efforts on goal this season than the majority of top flight teams across Europe, and only 2 attempts on target against 10 men during last weeks derby, it seems the Black Cats would struggle to score in a brothel with a bag of diamonds! Stephane Sessegnon, who despite being last seasons joint top scorer, has now gone 18 games without a goal and his dry spell has become a raging drought – unlike our poor excuse for a summer.

But never fear, as in the famous words of Baldrick ‘I have a cunning plan’ to address this sad state of affairs with my ‘Sunderland’s Six Simple Steps to Super Scoring Success’:

  1. Despite scoring 5 goals, Stephen Fletcher has been too isolated and needs midfield support, with a forward who operates within 10-15 yards of him – please step up Mr Saha
  2. Sunderland must improve their movement off the ball, with players moving into space and providing teammates with options when under pressure.
  3. Greater emphasis on passing the ball around more quickly with attacking purpose.
  4. Not relying on long balls into the box as the Stoke central defenders (Huth etc) are giants.
  5. It is pointless playing two wingers if they are picking up the ball in their own half whilst surrounded by several opposition players – see points 2 and 3 above.
  6. Being prepared to shoot when they see the white of the goalkeepers eyes – that’s the prompt for messers Johnson, Gardner and Larsson to dig our their shooting boots.

However, it’s no good scoring two goals (by following my SSSSSSS plan) if we then concede three. Stoke will provide a physically challenging… challenge! Therefore Cuellar, O’Shea and Mignolet need to be prepared for a battle, and the imminent return of the combative and committed Bardsley will be welcomed.

But that’s enough ideas for now as I once read that over 11,000,000 pieces of information dive-bomb our five senses every second and to stop becoming overwhelmed, our brain sifts through them at warp speed, separating what we need to know from what we can safely ignore. Thus, 99.9 percent of all incoming data is blithely discarded – a bit like this article perhaps.

I will therefore conclude by predicting that Sunderland can send our fans “potty” for the right reasons and predict a score draw.

‘Tell us what you think?

Also if you can correctly predict the result of our north east match here you can WIN a day-of-promotion courtesy of The North East HUB.