Sunderland A.F.C. - Behind Enemy Lines - Part 12
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Behind Enemy Lines - Part 12

Well, here we go again. The next chapter in our latest relegation scrap. We'll spend Saturday nervously watching the other teams around us play before making the trip to the SoL for the first time in three weeks to see us play Fulham in what is sure to be another nerve shredding afternoon for the die hard fans. Although, we all wish we could have a few seasons of comfortable mid-table finishes..that just wouldn't be our style. Since probably around 1994, every single season has had something riding on it going into the last month or so, and this season is turning out to be no different. I'm feeling a little more confident about Sunday after recent performances. If we can keep our key players fit and free from suspension, especially John Mensah, who seems to hold the defence together better, we should be able to compete well in the home games coming up. Four home games in succession. If these aren't crucial, then I don't know what is. We should aim for 7 points minimum I think. Less than 5 and we are in deep trouble and praying for a miracle.

I'd go with the following team: Gordon, Hutton, Mensah, Turner, McCartney, Malbranque, Cana, Cattermole, Richardson, Bent, Jones. Fulham have only won once away, so for me this represents a glorious chance to make it a Super Sunday.

Prediction: SAFC 2 Fulham 1

Watching the Premier League's dirtiest player, Lorik Cana against Arsenal on Saturday, I couldn't help comparing him to Kevin Ball in his latter days just before he retired. Ball, playing for Burnley in the Championship, used to charge in to tackles, picking up the odd red card and being lucky to stay on the pitch at times. That was Cana on Saturday, and it's how he has been playing for weeks now. His early season discipline has gone and he now gets frustrated very easily, launching himself in to two footed tackles consistently. Whether this is just due to his frustration at Sunderland's current plight, I don't know but it has got to stop and soon. If both he and Lee Cattermole start losing their heads in midfield and picking up card after card, it's going to make our Premier League status untenable. Cana is on 9 bookings, meaning one more and he'll be banned for two games, disrupting our midfield yet again in this crucial period. Despite my criticism of him though, at times at home he can be outstanding and committed so maybe the forthcoming home games can be the making of the Albanian.

So Wayne Bridge has pulled out of the World Cup as he can't bear to have wife stealing John Terry as a team-mate. Fair play to him, for what must have been a tough tough decision to make. Though, I can't help but feel that Fabio Capello or the FA have had a quiet word. The FA will feel that unrest between two players will bring unwanted headlines and unhappiness to the camp when everything needs to be calm for our World Cup bid. Maybe it should have been Terry that was dropped from the squad though. It's unfair that Bridge has had to stand aside and let his big World Cup chance slip away.

Pompey have just hours left to find a buyer or administration (and certain relegation) it will be for them. Although this is good news for us (one less relegation place to worry about), it's still sad for football and it shows any club is vulnerable. One bonus though, if they do go totally out of business...we won't have to hear that annoying bell being rung every time we watch them!

Take Arsenal to take revenge on Stoke City in the late game on Saturday. Couple them up with Norwich at Oldham. Surely I can get this one!!

That's all for now,

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The Journalist

Writer: Paul Wallis Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday February 25 2010

Time: 9:31PM


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