Gary Rowell: Stoke are in false position, their strike options are no comparison to Sunderland’s

Sunderlands Patrick van Aanholt.
Sunderlands Patrick van Aanholt.
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The Premier League resumes again after another two week break with Sunderland travelling to Stoke on Saturday for a bottom of the table clash.

I don’t think the rest of the country will be holding its breath, waiting for the outcome of this one but for Sunderland fans – and Stoke ones for that matter – it is massive.

Even at this early stage we are already in a position were points are more important than performances and as much as I would love to see Sunderland playing beautiful, free-flowing football, I will be more than happy with an ugly 1-0 win and so will David Moyes.

To do that, however, will take Sunderland doing something they have neither achieved or looked like achieving so far and that is keep a clean sheet.

With Jermain Defoe in the team, Sunderland are more than capable of nicking a goal, but a solid defensive display with no self-inflicted errors looks hopeful at best unless there is a huge improvement.

I’m sure David Moyes will be weighing up all of his options, one of which could be the three centre back system with wing-backs, which suits Patrick van Aanholt down to the ground.

Even if Moyes sticks with a flat back four, I have long thought that van Aanholt, with his lightning pace, eye for goal and without as much defensive responsibility, could do a job in midfield and with Kirchhoff and Larsson out and Cattermole doubtful, we are running out of options in that area.

Stoke have had almost as bad a start to the season as Sunderland but we shouldn’t be fooled by that as they are a better outfit than their position suggests and I don’t see them as a relegation team.

They have got an array of strikers and attacking options in Arnautovic, Bony, Shaqiri and Bojan and backing them up Walters, Diouf and Crouch who are all capable of causing damage, even if it is off the bench.

Compared to the striking options Davis Moyes has, well, there is no comparison.

In midfield Joe Allen was a good signing and he scored Stoke’s equaliser in their last outing against Manchester United and that 1-1 draw at Old Trafford will have given them a massive boost.

On the same weekend we had exactly the same scoreline against West Brom, at home, which wasn’t as impressive.

But at least we showed a bit of character to come from behind and we will need plenty of that at Stoke, where two teams without a single win between them, will be desperate to get their first three points of the season.