Ozturk in? Where does Honeyman fit in? What could go down this afternoon at Valley Parade

The lads managed to shoot themselves in the foot and two points went begging thanks to Bryan Oviedo's moment of idiocy against Peterborough.

by James_Hall Saturday, 06 October 2018 11:40 AM Comments

Luckily, it's just the Costa Rican that has to wait to make amends. Sunderland are back in action this afternoon against Bradford City and it really is time for the fans to start seeing this talented squad playing to its potential.

 

What's the story so far?

Sunderland were simply breath taking at times against Peterborough on Tuesday. A beautiful fluidity involved in the passing and movement of players and ball as they created scoring opportunity after scoring opportunity against one of their major promotion rivals. It's a crying shame that opportunities created doesn't win you games as the Black Cats only managed to convert two into goals.

And just like a recurring nightmare, Sunderlands leaky back four managed to fashion a mistake or two to let the Posh in to equalise. TWICE. Not that they were helped by Bryan Oviedo's poor attempt to recreate a scene from the karate kid on Marcus Maddison, ensuring he received his marching orders in the form of a straight red. Elbow or not, this is League One, everything's going to be flying about at all angles and Sunderland need to keep cool heads.

At the other end, Josh Maja continues to demonstrate what he learned from Jermaine Defoe and we were treated to an outstanding finish from Jerome Sinclair to get him off the mark this season. Oh and Chris Maguire continued his good form by being everywhere on the pitch, showing deft touches and generally causing hell for the opposition with his trickery and running.

Bradford have endured a rough start to the season, one which saw the manager who started it relieved of his duties. Michael Collins was sacked having only overseen a single win in his six games in charge and David Hopkin is now in the hot seat at Valley Parade. The former Livingstone boss has managed to shore things up since his arrival and this has resulted in a modest upturn of form. Hopkin saw a few defeats himself before a goalless draw against Bristol Rovers was followed by a win against Wimbledon to secure them four points in their last two games.

Hopkin will be hoping the last two games will be the signs of more to come, but with the Bantams needing a bit of luck and a penalty to slay the Don's, expecting back to back wins against Sunderland will be a big ask.

 

Manager Patter

Jack Ross has been reminding his players that they are improving and feels this could be the start of a good run.

“I’ve said often enough, I do feel as if we’re getting better and I think Tuesday night was another sign of that,

“It’s just important that we then improve, as a team, defensively, as at the moment we feel that clean sheets will win us games because of how many goals we’ve scored.

“Obviously, they had a good result during the week away from home.

“That will help them as well, and it’s still early days under their new manager.

“We’re looking forward to it and on the back of large parts of Tuesday night’s performance, I think the group of players are in a good place.

“I think they understand that they are improving individually and as a team, and they believe that they’re on the cusp of putting together a really good run of results.

“I think we all feel as if it’s getting ever closer.”

David Hopkin has been bullish about his side's chances pre match and has warned the black cats that Bradford are going to play to win.

“Hopefully we can make it difficult for Sunderland and still try to win the game. I’m not going to be negative.

“We’re at home and the fans will play a massive part. If they can get right behind us, that will give the players that extra 10 per cent in the game."

What could go down?

If Sunderland play anything like they did in the first half against Peterborough it's going to be 3 points returning to Wearside come the full time whistle. The fluidity and intelligence that the ball was moved with was a thing of beauty.

Aiden McGeady is back and his feet dance to tune not often seen in League One leaving defences bewildered. He looks fitter with every game and having him on the pitch with Chris Maguire must have been a prospect Jack Ross was licking his lips at pre season. Playing Maja up front with his fast and surprisingly strong new partner  Sinclair has proved a breath of fresh air, creating plenty of space for his lethal finishing to flourish.

The reinvigorated Lee Cattermole returns following his one match ban for his tidy collection of yellows and I genuinely feel sorry for anyone who comes up against him as he's surely going to want to prove a point. Sneakily, I want Ozturk to start and give the Bantams big forward line a hard day at the office. The Turkish destroyer is made for the physicality of League One and relishes going toe to toe with any man.

The real conundrum facing Ross is who starts at the back and where does club captain George Honeyman fit in? Expect Sunderland to stretch Bradford with their full backs, McGeady and Maguire to bamboozle in the middle and Sinclair and Maja to move and strike that ball towards goal at any opportunity.

 

Prediction

With Sunderland finding a bit of groove and swagger in their last game the pressure will be on to replicate it. Bradford didn't look great against Wimbledon and have to thank Joe Piggot for missing a huge chance that ensured they left with all three points on Tuesday. With Hopkin still undecided on his best team or system to play with it's going to be tough going again at a Sunderland side that seem to be getting to grips with the status as League One heavy weights.

I'm going to be modest this week and go for 2-0 to the Black Cats. If you've kept a tally my predictions ain't been great but I'm never going to back the lads to lose!