Writer: Gaz Johnson
Date:Sunday January 31 2010
Stadium of Light
Steve Bruce will be hoping his team can get back to winning ways after seeing his team only win one in the last 14 attempts. Stoke will bring all of the old boys back to the Stadium on Monday evening and they will all have a point to prove to the Sunderland fans and current players.
Stoke have now got Sorenson, Delap, Higginbotham, Collins, Whitehead and Lawrence in their team and Stoke can say they have made an improvement as they sit above Sunderland in the League and also find themselves in the 5th round of the FA cup.
Sunderland have a decent home record and they really need to start playing the football that saw them beat Liverpool and Arsenal earlier this season. Failure to beat Stoke on Monday in front of the ESPN cameras could deal a massive blow to confidence and also get fans thinking if Bruce is the right man for the job.
This game will define our season and with some important players close to returning we have to hope we can take our chances tomorrow night and improve our recent defending.
Bruce told the Sunderland Football Echo: 'I know that we're going on a bad run as things stand, but it won't be the first time or the last time it happens to me in my career.
'It's all about turning things around and making sure that you come out of it going in the right direction and I'm determined to do exactly that.
'I've come here with a three-year contract and a plan to give Sunderland fans a team that is not only successful but that they will enjoy watching and love coming to see.
'And I've got every confidence that we'll get there in the end.
'What we all need to do is to stick together and support each other and just get that mentality back that we had earlier in the season.'
Bruce declared Turner and Cattermole to have trained over the weekend and should be fit to play on Monday night.
Richardson is still injured and Bardsley may miss out also.
Stoke have been strongly linked to Jones and manager Tony Pulis declared himself out of the running this transfer window a few days ago.
Jones still needs to prove himself to me after his return from injury as he has failed to score in the Premier league since Man City away on 19th December.
He has had his head turned by Liverpool making noises over him joining them but this should not affect a player it should build his confidence.
He needs to come out tomorrow evening and show to everyone why he is rated so highly and why he has attracted other clubs interest. At the moment it is in his hands as to where he wants to be next season but if he scores goals in the decision making process then everyone will be happy.
Stoke have a fully fit squad to pick from on Monday with no real injury concerns.
Ex-Sunderland javelin wannabe Rory Delap heads back to the North East to face a side he never settled into. Since leaving for Stoke he has became a cult hero with his many assists from his amazing long throws.
His throw last season at the Brittania Stadium won Stoke the game, and he will be looking to test Craig Gordon and his defence with more of the same ammo into the box.
The Black Cats have leaked 18 goals in their last six league games.
This is Sunderland's first Premier League fixture at the Stadium of Light since they played Everton on Boxing Day.
Sunderland 1 - 0 Stoke Sunderland MUST win this game if we are to calm fears of another relegation fight this season. We have players returning and new ones to add hopefully by the deadline and this game really will define our season.
Sunderland face another tough home game against Wigan on Saturday 6th Feb.
Date:Sunday January 31 2010
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