Fixtures piling up - at least TWO risky changes expected for Sunderland - we must win today (duh)

You don't change a winning side. But it looks like we are about to.

In fairness with our threadbare squad it would not be a surprise at all if a few changes are made given we only played a few days ago, and there are tonnes coming up. It was an intense encounter at Pride Park too, with plenty of effort all over the pitch.


Who's spot is safe?

Tactically, I hope Chris Coleman keeps faith with the 4-5-1 that reaped dividends on Friday. You can't rely on Sunderland keeping a clean sheet - defensively we are not good enough and we don't have the talent pool available to change that. We have to score goals, and plenty of them, to win games. Friday proved that even with Ashley Fletcher up front Sunderland can create chances and score. I've griefed Fletcher as much as the next Sunderland fan, but he was very good and deserves another chance accordingly. Whether he can handle the occasion in front of us is another question - he's had plenty of stick from the stands during his short loan stint.

Most of the creativity against Derby came through Aiden McGeady who simply has to maintain his starting spot. Aye he's lazy as owt tracking back and with Bryan Oviedo being the left-sided defender we are going to concede goals down that flank.It's inevitable. But we have to accept that in exchange for the creativity it brings.

There could be some changes at the back. Marc Wilson's return and Adam Matthews will give Coleman food for thought. I think we can safely say Oviedo and Lamine Kone will definitely start. Other than that, I've only got six players on my safe list for this afternoon.

The safe list

Lee Camp
Bryan Oviedo
Lamine Kone
Lee Cattermole
Aiden McGeady
Ashley Fletcher


Tinker row

Fitness will play a key part in any changes Coleman makes. Five players have their place under threat;

John O'Shea
Donald Love
George Honeyman
Paddy McNair
Lynden Gooch

Donald Love played well against Derby, but we all know Coleman prefers Matthews who missed out after arriving back from China on international duty. Another defender who could be dropped is John O'Shea - purely due to the saturated fixture list and that the bloke is getting on a bit.

In midfield, despite having a fantastic game, Lynden Gooch will always have his place under scrutiny having just forced his way into the side. However, he's a sprightly young fella and I think he will be given another chance. George Honeyman has been in and out of the team and, despite scoring against Derby, was probably one of the less influential players on Friday. I really hope McNair starts, but given his injury history and recent return - two games in four days could be too much of an ask.

Expected line up

Lee Camp, Lamine Kone, Marc Wilson, Adam Matthews, Bryan Oviedo, Lee Cattermole, George Honeyman, Paddy McNair, Lynden Gooch, Aiden McGeady, Ashley Fletcher.

McNair was substituted almost immediately after O'Shea netted our forth, which struck me as a decision to try and keep the Northern Irishman in the condition to play today. I really do think his inclusion and performance was one of the major factors which turned our fortunes. We've lacked a competent midfielder all season and keeping this lad on the team sheet from now until the end of the campaign feels necessary if we are to have a chance of survival. 

I think Honeyman also keeps his place, purely because the only other option is Ethan Robson - whom I am not sure if Coleman quite trusts for such an occasion just yet. The midfield could all change should Ovie Ejaria be fit to play, which is not expected.

I said Gooch will probably keep his place, and I believe that, but we're still waiting for the match Kazenga LuaLua starts. If it isn't tomorrow - it will surely be during this busy 12 day period.

At 37, and with another four games in 12 days, there has to be some respite for O'Shea at some point and with Wilson's return this is the perfect opportunity. The other defensive change, Matthews in for Love, I think will be just down to Coleman's preference.

Changing a winning defence is always a risk, but it is difficult not to at this point. Nothing less than a win required, and plenty of fingers crossed to hope other results go our way.
blog comments powered by Disqus