04/05: Preview: Sunderland
by Matt Rowson
How did they do?
"Despite a few nervous moments, we did that pretty well too. While a whipped, skidding McAteer free kick nearly snuck in at the far post after eighteen minutes, it was only when Arca finished a speedy right-to-left attack by slicing well over from ten yards that Lenny Pidgeley had any real cause for concern. That was a decent opening...and, although McAteer headed comfortably wide in the last couple of minutes, it was the only one that we permitted our opponents. In complete contrast to that match, they were made to work for everything, and given nothing. That includes Tommy Smith, shut out by the defence and shouted at, disgracefully, by the Rookery. Save it for Connolly, for heaven's sake."
How will they do?
First off, Sunderland allowed Palace to gain promotion, stupid bastards. We don't have to visit Selhurst, for the first time in six seasons, which is a blessing, but still. Sunderland owe football.
That aside, quite how potent their promotion challenge will be this time is unclear, given a hefty revamp of the squad. Lots of experienced/old players have gone, by and large unproven/sprightlier players have arrived. Robinson is a good signing and was much coveted, but defensive options look weaker with the departures of Bjorklund, Babb and McAteer and only Caldwell coming in. Same again for my money.