Gary Rowell: Sunderland must be wary of Stoke

Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist
Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist
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IN my view, Stoke City are the most underrated team in the Premier League and Sunderland will have a heck of a job on their hands trying to get their first win of the season at the Stadium of Light this Sunday.

I don’t think Tony Pulis’s side have really got the credit they deserve over the last few seasons, simply because the purists dislike their direct and physical style of play.

I don’t think that’s fair.

There’s nothing in the rule books preventing you having tall, powerful players, just like there’s nothing to prevent you looking to get the ball forward at every opportunity. It works for them and in the last couple of seasons it has brought them a top-half finish, an FA Cup final and a place in Europe.

Good luck to them I say, though I’m desperate for Sunderland to beat them this weekend.

I don’t see Saturday’s match as a must-win game – it’s too early in the season for that. But it would certainly transform the mood around the place if we got the three points.

I know how formidable Stoke are likely to be – especially after the addition of Spurs’ duo Peter Crouch and Wilson Palacios – but I’m pinning my hopes on their midweek trip to Kiev testing them to the limit.

That’s a long-haul journey for them. It’s bound to be a difficult game, and maybe – just maybe – that will give Sunderland the edge in terms of fitness and energy.

READ the full column in today’s Echo