Wear-Tyne Derby Soapbox: are we ready for it?

The countdown begins. But to what? Pete Sixsmith ponders on the big match. Is that a hint of optimism I detect? …

The day is nearly upon us. The day that we look for first in the fixture list when it comes out. The day that usually comes in October or February. And it’s happening tomorrow… August 20, second game of the season, first home game for us, first away game for them.

For Sunderland supporters, this is a great opportunity to claim early bragging rights, that could last over Autumn, Winter, Christmas and Pancake Tuesday. The team looks solid and has experience of derbies in other parts of the UK. It has to be an advantage – doesn’t it?

We started well last week, with a very good result at Anfield. The opening 30 minutes were not great, but we pulled ourselves back into the game, against a far better side than Newcastle United are.

Defensively we looked ok. Brown and Ferdinand did well and Bardsley was as solid as ever. Left back may be a problem if Kieran decides to pass the ball to their forwards, but if he plays as well as he did in the second half, he should get through without any real hiccups.

If O’Shea is fit, will he make his debut at right back, with Bardsley switching to left? The first of a couple of major decisions that The Brucester has to make.

Midfield is the crucible of this game and the manager’s selections here are going to be crucial. Cattermole and Larsson are definites, but the other two are open to suggestion.
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Like Richardson, Colback struggled at the start last week, but recovered well and had a very solid second. Will he stay in the centre with Cattermole, or will Bruce go for the experience of Craig Gardner?

Elmohamady put some good crosses in, not least the one that Larsson converted, but would David Vaughan’s ability to hold the ball and use it, be more to our advantage?

The other two pick themselves. Sessegnon has impressed pre-season and did well on Saturday. Gyan worked hard for precious little at Anfield, but it was his back heel that allowed Elmo to put in his outstanding cross.

What about the opposition? At the risk of being accused of “having an obsession with NUFC”, I don’t think that they are as strong as we are at the back or up front. Midfield is the area where they will try to boss us with Barton and Tiote quite prepared to battle it out with Cattermole and Colback/Gardner.

That leaves the flanks and it may well be there that the game is won. Larsson and Elmohamady/Vaughan look stronger than Gutierrez and (possibly) Obertan. Get at them down the side and make sure that the ball is played to feet and we have every chance of keeping on top of them.

It’s not an occasion that I enjoy and come 2m I will be pleased that it is out of the way. I am optimistic and I think that we have a better chance of winning than we had last year. It looks a better balanced side that could grow into a good one, if we can put the neighbours to bed early in the season.

Ha’way the Lads …

4 thoughts on “Wear-Tyne Derby Soapbox: are we ready for it?”

  1. many mags (and Sunderland folks) are saying that we don’t have the firepower to score, but I think Sess and Gyan area always likely to do just that and are too mobile and unpredictable for Taylor (certainly) and maybe a handful for Coloccini. Against an arsenal side that tried to build through the middle, the mags could close them down. A more expansive side, that gets down the wings, will cause them lots more problems. Elmo, Larsson step forward. Central midfield is the area to be controlled

  2. On paper we are a far better squad, we have goals from back to front in the team. As Moongod stated a derby can throw a Cats (excuse the pun) amongst the Magpies, the players and fans will reflect on the result for the next few games. A good win will be a positive step forward and we will bounce into the next few games on the back of claiming bragging rights.
    I will stick my neck out and forecast a 2-0 win to the lads. Back 4 solid, Mid field threat will be slowed by the Skunks midfield but get the ball past them and our front 2 will get the goals required.

  3. I thought we had the better team in better form before Halloween – as we all know, derbies throw up freakish results. I honestly can’t see them troubling our back four, and I think we’ve got goals right through the side (even, possibly, from set-pieces). If we really want to take another step forwards, this is the kind of game we must start winning, regardless of the opposition.

    This is where the attitude of Brown and O’Shea is needed to rub off on the others – win this and we CAN have a big season. Lose, and we know what a negative mindset around the SoL can do to our season only too well…

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