Sunderland must keep Stoke's dismal run going
After a dreary 0-0 draw, in a less than half-full stadium, against a team who murdered you a few weeks ago, you need a glamour tie to get the juices flowing again.
So it’s a good job we’re welcoming Mark Hughes’ Stoke City to the Stadium of Light this weekend.
You might think I’m being sarcastic but, as far as I’m concerned, this has more glitz than all of Fred Astaire’s top hats piled up on top of each other (which, coincidentally, would reach the exact same height as Peter Crouch).
Why does this game have so much razzle-dazzle though?
Is it Marko Arnautovic’s top knot?
Is it the memories of the Stoke manager walzting through Spanish defences in his Barcelona playing days?
Or could it even be that Phil Bardsley’s wife, Real Housewives Of Cheshire star Tanya Bardsley, may be in attendance?
No, it’s not for any of those reasons.
Saturday has star quality because of players like Charlie Adam coming up against Donald Love.
Two big units like Ryan Shawcross and Victor Anichebe going, quite literally, head-to-head.
The aforementioned Phil Bardsley versus Billy Jones for goodness sake!
This game sounds like it could have been played in the 1970’s, in game where the players kick lumps out of each other, smoke half a packet of Rothmans at half time and then all jump into a big communal bath at the end.
That’s the true beauty of football. Well, maybe not the communal bath part but there’s certainly a romance in the potential brutality in matches such as Sunderland v Stoke on a freezing cold January afternoon.
Let’s not forget either, that Stoke seem to hate travelling to Sunderland.
The Potters have never won a league game at the SoL and you have to go back to 1994 for their last win on Wearside.
To give that added context, Microsoft hadn’t yet released a computer with an Internet Explorer on it yet, Donald Love wasn’t born and David Moyes still had the fresh skin complexion a man who didn’t know what horrors were ahead of him.
So our home ground has became something of a fortress when Stoke saunter in, much like how we used to travel so woefully to Everton or how Newcastle still feel when they play us.
Despite the players’ ambitions to set a Guinness World Record for most amount of injuries in one season, there’s still reason to believe that The Lads will continue their impressive home form. There could even be an injury boost, as Anichebe jumps straight off the treatment table and into the starting XI.
With Adnan Januzaj looking bright & dangerous in recent weeks and Jermain Defoe a constant menace, the return of Big Vic should give the Stoke defence plenty of problems.
The form of the visitors has been inconsistent at best and while there may be issues in midfield and defence, the Sunderland attack can certainly do Stoke plenty of damage.
It doesn’t look like there’ll be a huge amount of new arrivals having their photos taken at the Academy of Light, holding up scarves, this month. So to get us out of our annual mess, it’s going to be down to the sheer determination of the players we still have available.
What better way for them to prove they’ve got the stomach for it, by getting a win in the weekend’s most glamorous tie.
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