I expect Jack Ross to stick with the 3-5-1/3-4-2 that he has deployed for much of the pre-season and against Oxford United. Paul Lambert likes a 4-4-2 but does have players who possess the quality to pass the ball comfortably, especially with Alan Judge and a host of talented youngsters to compliment his experience.
One thing I took away from the Stadium of Light on Saturday (apart from how awful the atmosphere was) was how solid the midfield pairing of George Dobson and Dylan McGeouch looked, snuffing out any Oxford attacks that came through the middle and I would fully expect the pair to start and continue to develop this partnership.
Ross could well start with some of Sunderland’s heavy hitters such as McGeady and Maguire who both had positive, if brief, impacts on last Saturday’s proceedings. Hopefully wingbacks Denver Hume and Lynden Gooch take on the huge responsibility of providing width and thrust along with defensive solidarity when called upon to drop into a back five to support our centre backs.
If Will Grigg and Marc McNulty continue to improve then Sunderland should look much more threatening, because in all honesty the build-up play was fairly decent last Saturday for the first game of the season and if anyone could have gotten onto the end of the deluge of balls that flashed across the face of the Oxford goal then we would all be talking differently.
I was impressed with Marc McNulty’s industry and willingness to attack with quality and confidence, I also thought Dylan McGeouch is showing exactly why he was so sought after when we signed him, providing confidence, class and quality to keep us ticking over quite nicely, along with the added bonus of reading the game well and cutting out a lot of through balls.
Dobson alongside him has an engine, is physical and is looking to get forward so I hope for more of the same.
The big issue is whether or not Grigg will finally find his shooting boots which would come as a great relief for the Sunderland contingent.
Still, its early doors and I’m full of relentless optimism for the season ahead, we weren’t great against Oxford but likewise Ipswich didn’t dominate Burton Albion.
I’m going for an optimistic 2-0 win to us, especially since we all saw how seething Ross was that we conceded first and early on. Let’s lay a marker down for the season against one of our big promotion rivals.
Ha-way the Lads!