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The game against Arsenal in the League has pretty much given our season a much needed boot up the arse. We were defending as if we’d assembled our defenders from the bus stop and that has to stop now if we are to have any chance of finishing in that mid table position. We’ve only got four games this month where all four teams are battling it out for four different reasons. Crystal Palace, like us, are looking to build upon from their impressive campaign of last year, Leicester City are battling it out to stay in the Premier League, Everton want European football but have started the season badly and finally, Chelsea are gunning for the title.
Saturday 1st November 2014: Barclays Premier League
Crystal Palace 2 Sunderland 3
Mannone/ Van Aanholt/ Ake (Coates)/ O’Shea/ Jones/ Borini/ Cattermole/ Rodwell/ Johnson (Larsson)/ Fletcher/ Alvarez
Goals: Johnson 15’ Rodwell 20’ Alvarez 24’ Campbell 80’ Coates 88’ (OG)
MOTM: Rodwell (Sunderland)
Our defence is going to give me a mental breakdown one of these days! Former striker, Frazier Campbell and an own goal from Coates made the dying few minutes a nail biting experience. Being 3-0 up after 24 minutes only motivated Palace to move on and the lads pretty much felt it was game over at that point. It’s something we need to address. We need to keep on fighting to the final whistle otherwise things like this can only continue to happen on a regular occurrence.
Saturday 11th November 2014: Barclays Premier League
Leicester City 2 Sunderland 2
Mannone/ Van Aanholt/ Ake/ O’Shea/ Jones/ Borini (Wickham)/ Cattermole (Vergini)/ Rodwell (Bridcutt)/ Johnson/ Alvarez/ Fletcher
Goals: Alvarez 15’ Borini 38’ Taylor-Fletcher 59’ 65’
Red Card: Ake 57’
MOTM: Taylor-Fletcher (Leicester City)
If you watched this match, you would never have thought that Leicester City were a side that was struggling in the table. You would have thought the Foxes were a side challenging for the League title. I touched upon the lack of concentration from the guys in our previous match and that trend has continued here. Ake brought Nugent down in the box and received his marching orders but thankfully the one time England striker spooned the ball over the bar. Gary Taylor-Fletcher leaved the game at 2-2 and rightfully deserved his man of the match award. For us, it’s one step forward, three steps back!
Monday 24th November 2014: Barclays Premier League
Sunderland 3 Everton 2
Mannone/ Van Aanholt/ Coates/ O’Shea/ Byram/ Borini (Buckley)/ Cattermole/ Rodwell/ Johnson (Larsson)/ Alvarez/ Fletcher
Goals: Alvarez 7’ 60’ Johnson 76’ Naismith 20’ Barry 43’
MOTM: Alvarez (Sunderland)
After being on the receiving end of a fight back by two teams struggling towards the foot of the table, it was our turn. Everton, who had started the season badly, took the lead in the first half. Despite being down 2-1, we actually played some decent stuff. I couldn’t fault them here. Continue doing what you’re doing and the result will come was my message at half time and it worked. Adam Johnson scored a screamer from the outside of the area and into the top right hand corner of Tim Howard’s net. The obviation from the Sunderland faithful was deafening! Overall, we were the better side and we absolutely deserved the 3 points.
Saturday 29th November: Barclays Premier League
Sunderland 0 Chelsea 1
Mannone/ Van Aanholt/ Vergini/ O’Shea/ Byram/ Borini/ Cattermole/ Rodwell (Bridcutt)/ Johnson/ Fletcher/ Alvarez (Wickham)
Goals: Costa 33’
MOTM: Baker (Chelsea)
Some people might say, “You only got beat 1-0 off Chelsea, that’s okay” but I disagree. Chelsea fielded out a weakened side, which I guess was because of Champion’s League commitments, but it was a weakened side and they were there for the taken. We battered them from the off and had some great chances but were unable to finish them. At least we didn’t get steamrolled by the blues but they were there for the taken. Disappointing!
Player of the month: Adam Johnson
Adam has been outstanding for the majority of the season and this is the month where he was truly head and shoulders above the rest. His pin point crossing and assists in almost every goal scored this month has seen him return to Roy Hodgson’s England setup and rightful so. With seven months left of the season, I reckon Adam is just going to continue growing and growing!
We could have been sitting in 6th position had we hold on at Leicester but it wasn’t to be. Still, 10th place is something not to be sniffed at when you think this time last year we were rock bottom in the table with relegation a real certainty. We have some very tough games coming up during the Christmas period, in particular the Tyne-Wear Derby against league leaders, Newcastle United. Here I am managing Sunderland and the Toon Army top the table. Oh the irony!