After an excellent 5-1 win in the FA cup, we will look to continue the way we played in preparation for the return of Big Sam.
Will it be boos or cheers? Personally I think we should politely applaud out of gratitude for stabilising our club, but sing Slaven’s name loud and proud to show just how much the new man means to us.
Our injury list is gradually getting shorter, with Lanzini now fit to start and we should see Andy Carroll return to the bench.
It is a game too many for Diafra Sakho, but Winston Reid is 50/50 to make the bench. We also have Byram back after being cup tied, so things are on the up once again.
We must not underestimate Big Sam’s side, because with the form from the likes of Defoe, we could come unstuck, and we know exactly what Sam is about.
They would be more than happy to take a point from us, so we will have to be aware of that and keep tight to Defoe.
I do believe we can play a more attacking team, especially at home, which would probably see Obiang drop to the bench, even though he hasn’t put a foot wrong.
With Byram coming back in at full back, we should see Antonio push forward, and hopefully see Payet in the central role we all crave for as fans.
As mentioned before, we will have to be weary of Defoe and what he brings to this Sunderland team. Although I do feel Ginge can cope with him, I would like to see either Kouyate or Noble doubling up and stopping him from getting into pockets of space and running the channels.
The FA cup is obviously a huge competition and we most certainly have a chance of winning it, but that does not mean we should lose focus on the league. If we concentrate too much on the cup, we won’t get the strong end to the season we want and we could find ourselves dropping down very quickly.
It was good to see Emenike get two goals last Sunday, which should give him heaps of confidence going into this one and could be a real handful for the Sunderland defence. His performance definitely warrants a start for tomorrow, so it should be interesting to see how he plays against premier league opposition from the start of a game.
As for how we will line up, this is what I am expecting from Bilic…
I expect Adrian to come in for Randolph, with Obiang dropping out for Byram and Antonio pushing further up in a more advanced wide role.
It is not going to be an easy game for sure, but with the quality we have both in the starting XI and the bench, we should be able to see this one through, and I am going for a 3-1 win.