Here’s what the Echo was reporting on SAFC 10 years ago.
NUGENT KO BLOW:
Preston do the double to give Sunderland another setback
YET another chance for Sunderland to genuinely break into the chase for a play-off place went begging today as Preston North End completed the double over them.
The game was decided by a 27th-minute goal from Preston’s leading goalscorer, David Nugent, after a defensive lapse from the home side.
Brett Ormerod chased a Danny Pugh ball into the area down the left and, with Sunderland slow to respond, was able to nick the ball over Darren Ward to the far post where Nugent headed home from a couple of yards out.
There was precious little between the two sides for long spells of the game, both teams going for goal but defences generally dominating.
In the second half, Sunderland dominated the match but were unable to create much in the way of clear cut chances.
And on two occasions Preston looked favourites to extend their lead in breakaway moves.
Sunderland have yet to convince in any of their games over the Christmas programme.
And they will need to up their game in the matches ahead if mid-table mediocrity is not to beckon.
Victory – after three successive away defeats – bolstered Preston’s challenge for automatic promotion in second spot, and gave them a boost ahead of next Saturday’s rematch with Sunderland in the FA Cup at Deepdale.
WENGER WILL LET STOKES DECIDE:
ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger has told teenage striker Anthony Stokes he is free to spend the rest of the season in Scotland.
The 18-year-old – who Sunderland boss Roy Keane has expressed an interest in – has been a big hit north of the border with Scottish Premier League club Falkirk, who are keen to extend his rapidly-expiring loan deal for another six months.
But having scored 13 goals for the Bairns, plenty of other clubs have been alerted to the Irishman’s potential, with Wenger leaving the door open for a return to England.
Wenger said: “It depends on him. I will not force him to come back. I feel he will benefit from having one year in the SPL as a first-team player.
“Then he will be in a strong position to come back and say ‘I want to play here.’ I have plenty of players out on loan so let’s show for a year hoe good you are.”
New Charlton boss Alan Pardew is understood to be an admirer of Stokes, who has also been linked with Celtic.
And Wenger made it clear he would not stand in the player’s way should be offered a chance of first-team football in England.
He said: “I am not against it but it depends on him. I would love for him to play in the Premier League but I have had no request from Charlton.”
Wenger has also stated he has no intention of bringing in new players when the transfer window opens for a month in a few days’ time.
Teenage striker Nicklas Bendtner has extended his loan spell at Birmingham until the end of the season and Wenger opened the door for Jose Antonio Reyes to make his move to Real Madrid a permanent one ahead of schedule.
He said: “The agreement we have with Madrid is that they can decide at the end of the season. If they want to decide it earlier they can but I cannot make that decision.”