Writer: Gary Johnson
Date:Friday February 4 2011
Sunderland head to Stoke after losing 4-2 to the champions on Tuesday, not an easy place to re-group and focus on three points.
Sunderland will bring into the team two Ghanaians with Muntari and Mensah joining Gyan, who will lead the line.
We have a very strong squad but do rely a lot on some important players returning in the next four weeks.
Stoke are having an average season and find themselves only 6 points from the bottom three.
Stoke will be looking for three points, however Sunderland need some points before a very hard run of games approach soon.
Sunderland need to be strong and defend a lot better than the last game in order to keep their Euro charge going.
"They`ve got their strengths, we`ve got our ours and I always feel it`s important to play to your strengths rather than to the oppositions.
"We have to compete, but we also have to make sure we don`t get dragged into playing them at their own game.
"It`s not going to be easy for us - we can`t make our players taller for set-pieces. But we just have to accept that`s the way it is and try to counter it the best way we can.
"What I do want us to do though is to play our football. Some of the stuff we played against Chelsea in the first half on Tuesday night was fantastic - lesser opposition would have struggled to cope with it.
"And that`s what I`m looking for from us tomorrow. Let`s allow our football to do the talking. We`ve got so much talent in the side now, so much skill and technique and players who love to pass and move, so I`m hoping that we will impose ourselves on Stoke with our football ability.
"If we play some of our best stuff we`ve got a real chance of getting something from the game."
Ryan Shawcross will return to the squad after missing the last two games for Stoke.
Also manager Tony Pulis will also involve Etherington and Kenwyne Jones as they were both rested during midweek.
Obviously he will be well up for this game against his former club and he has had a good season so far.
If we can stop the crosses and missile throw in's we will have a great chance of victory on Saturday against the T&T striker.
Steve Bruce will start Muntari for his debut game in a red and white shirt. John Mensah is also being considered for a start after Sunderland conceded 4 goals midweek.
In recent news, Cattermole will be out for another 4 weeks due to a back problem.
What a signing this could be!
A solid midfielder who loves to win the ball and move the midfield up at every opportunity.
He will be massive for us this season and what a game to come into for us as it will be a real battle.
Sunderland have kept 11 clean sheets in the league, which is the equal-most in the division with Manchester City and Chelsea.
Stoke have not conceded more than two goals in a league game this season.
Referee: Lee Probert Assistant referees: Stephen Child & Paul Thompson Fourth official: Peter Walton
Stoke 1 - 1 Sunderland I would be delighted with a point as this is a very tricky game. If we manage to stop the crosses and deliveries we have a chance, however a point would be amazing.
A run of tricky games will come and we start with Spurs at home next weekend.
Date:Friday February 4 2011
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