Writer: J P Fear
Date:Friday November 18 2005
Stadium Of Light
Gulp. Six pointer without a doubt. Both teams are struggling at the bottom of the Premiership and neither team can really afford to lose this one. Villa boss O'Leary especially can't afford to lose it as the pressure mounts with the press, players and fans all slowly turning. It is time for the fightback to start following our worst league start in 35 years; but have the players got the fight? I guess only time will tell.
Mick McCarthy said: “Since beating Middlesbrough, when we played so well, we have not been able to put the same team out because of injuries to people like Christian and Julio Arca. I haven’t cried about our injuries, but they have hurt us.”
DOL said: 'I'm deep in trouble, I've lost my book full of excuses, I wonder if the water up north doesn't taste nice will do?'
Kevin Phillips said: 'It's going to be difficult, but it's definitely a game we can win. We've got to make sure they don't turn us over like they did to Middlesbrough. But with the way we've started they'll be looking to our game to get three points against us. We're well aware of that. These are the teams we need to be picking up points against.
Christian Bassila is back after missing five games with a hamstring injury and will be playing according to Mick McCarthy. Le Tallec could partner Elliott up front. Julio Arca is unlikely to be fit but may be able to return from a fractured toe the week after v Birmingham City. (from): Alnwick, Davis, Wright, Nosworthy, D Collins, Hoyte, Breen, Stubbs, Caldwell, Lawrence, Bassila, Whitehead, Miller, Welsh, Elliott, Gray, Stead, Murphy, Le Tallac, Robinson.
Looked in fine form for the French U21's in the play offs v England and scored in the first leg.
Phillips, McCann and Sorenson will all be playing against their former club. Delaney has picked up another injury, this time his groin, and will miss the match, which is a blow because in the 3 matches he has been able to play recently, he has been in fine form. Bouma is pushing for a return to the left back spot and O'Leary will be hoping that Hughes will be passed fit to replace Delaney. Mellberg is the teams only ever present this season. (from): Sorensen, Taylor, Hughes? Bouma? Mellberg, Ridgewell, Samuel, Milner, Bakke, McCann, Hendrie, Davis, De La Cruz, Jumper Jumper, Barry, Phillips, Angel, Baros, Moore.
How with the former Sunderland hero be greeted? And more importantly, will he help sink the Sunderland faithful? He has already said he won't know whether to celebrate or not as he respects the fans of his former club. Just score Kevin, don't worry about the celebrations!
Villa go into the game having lost three games in a row for the first time in five years. We've only one two matches this season and our away record is diabolical having only won 1 game in 8 on our travels(against Small Heath).
Villa are 17th with 9 points.
Best case: 15th.
Worst case: 19th (depending on goal difference + result of Birmingham City)
Current Form League: 18th
Last six games: L L W L L L
Away Form League: 16th, 1 win, 1 draw, 5 losses.
Sunderland go into the game on a five game losing streak, what worries me is every time a team is having a bad run, Villa help them break it!
Sunderland are 20th with 5 points.
Best Case: 18th.
Worst case: Remaining 20th.
Current Form League: 17th
Last six games: W D L L L L
Home Form League: 19th with 0 wins, 2 draws, 4 losses.
Last Season: Not applicable.
Premiership record: Sunderland 3 wins, Villa 2, Draws 5
Record at Sunderland:Sunderland 3 wins, Villa 0, Draws 2
Chris Foy, 4 matches, 1 red, 12 yellows.
Mystic Mug is full of fear and trepidation for this tie and isn't convinced that the players will be up for the battle. He hates to agree with Mark Lawrenson, but sadly does, home win, 1-0 in a scrappy affair. Lawrenson has predicted 2-1 to Sunderland saying on the BBC site: 'This is a basement battle. It'll be tight but I'm going to go for Sunderland and any defeat will exacerbate problems for Villa who just can't seem to get their defence, midfield and attack working at the same time. Sunderland had a good spell recently which was stopped and will be looking at the game to push them back forward again.'
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Date:Friday November 18 2005
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