Sunderland Buildup: Poyet Looks for Fresh Legs, Buckley Ready to Forget and O’Shea Gets Psychological

Gus needs some fresh legs

Coming off a hard fought scoreless draw against Premier League pace-setters Chelsea at the weekend, Sunderland would have been hoping to keep that momentum going when they played host to Manchester City yesterday — let’s just say that things don’t always turn out the way that you want.

Black Cats striker Connor Wickham may have gave boss Guy Poyet something to smile about when he opened the scoring against the run of play just before the 20-minute mark, but that was the only joy the Uruguayan was going to get all night as the visitors hit back with four unanswered goals to ease to victory at the Stadium of Light. After getting a kicking in front of your own fans, the best thing now for Sunderland would be to re-group and lick their wounds, but that’s not about to work out for them either with a trip to Liverpool on the cards for Saturday.

To be fair, it’s been a tough week for them; coming up against the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool in the span of seven days is a daunting task for any side — especially one carrying a number of injuries in a number of key positions. Case in point would be Poyet throwing on-loan Reds defender Sebastian Coates into the fray after he had just returned from injury. With Wes Brown sidelined and the Uruguayan unable to feature against his parent club at the weekend, the 24-year old endured a torrid return to action with Sergio Aguero and company putting him to the sword at each and every opportunity.

“Wes didn’t train for two days and of course we have the situation where Sebastian [Coates] cannot play on Saturday, so it was better not to risk him to make sure he is 100% for Saturday” said Poyet following the humbling at the hands of Manchester City. “It was an easy decision in the end but for Seb it was a tough game to play, especially against the quality of Sergio Aguero and the quality of form that he is in at the moment” he continued before expanding on the absence of winger Adam Johnson. “Adam had a problem with his quads at the end of the game the other day and he didn’t train for one minute with us, so there was no chance” explained the Uruguayan of the wingers absence from the midweek meeting. “I think we have a great chance to recover him for Saturday, but let’s see.”

The way the Mackem’s set up to frustrate Chelsea could be used to good effect this weekend if they’re able to do like they did against the Citizens and snatch an early goal at Anfield. It’d be kind to say that Liverpool’s defence has been below average this season, but successive wins against Stoke City and Leicester City have the Reds climbing out of the wrong half of the table. While the hosts defence will continue to be the one under scrutiny, after taking a pummeling midweek, confidence won’t exactly be sky-high in the Black Cats backline either — something that Will Buckley hopes his teammates will be able to forget about.

“I think it was a real blow to concede so quickly and if we had kept them out until half time it would have been a big step, but they replied within two or three minutes and from that point our heads went down a little bit” said the winger. “We had a game plan which was similar to the one against Chelsea but we didn’t contain City as well as we did on Saturday, so we are disappointed but we have to look on to Liverpool straight away.”

Although they’re in a better position at this stage of the season than they were last year, Sunderland will want to avoid too many slip-ups heading into the all-important festive fixtures, lest they find themselves in a relegation dog-fight for a second season running. Poyet’s side narrowly avoided the drop last year, finally securing their top-flight status on the last day of the season. It’s spells like this that can make your season or put you in a really tough spot, but despite the fixture pile-up, captain John O’Shea.

“I don’t want to harp back to last season, but we did it at tough places then. Physically we have to be able to cope with it. You’re a professional player. Psychologically it’s a test as well and one we have to come through” he said of Sunderland’s relatively small squad having to cope with three matches against three top-tier teams in the span of a week. “But we all fought last season to play games like Liverpool at Anfield, so we have to look forward to it. Liverpool have had a couple of dogged wins, but hopefully we can put them under pressure and take advantage.”


Steven McMillan

Can’t find up from down or tell black from white, but doesn't care cause it’s all Red to him. When he's not pissing and moaning about all things Liverpool, he’s chatting nonsense with his multiple personalities — or his “entourage” as he likes to call them.

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