Sunderland (H) Match Preview

Sunderland at home then? We really have come a long way since the days of welcoming Alfreton Town and Farsley Celtic to the Abbey. After a double header of Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town at home in October, this November we complete a second mammoth double header with Wigan Athletic on Tuesday and now Sunderland this Saturday. It’s important to remember that for most United fans of a vintage pre-2014, it really hasn’t always been this way. And to genuinely do everything you can to enjoy every moment. Another sold out Abbey as the part-timers come pouring back in. Drink it in.

But while you’re doing that, do also remember there’s a football match to win. And that the U’s are actually in a pretty decent position to do just that. Firstly, is the fact that against teams that have won the FA Cup at some point in their history (Ipswich, Wigan, Portsmouth, Bolton, Sheffield Wednesday and Wimbledon), we are currently unbeaten this season. It’s a pretty decent indicator of how we’ve fared against some of the division’s “big hitters”.

And as we face up against the next former FA Cup winner, there’s reason to be bullish here too… The Black Cats’ boss Lee Johnson confirmed in his presser his side will have 10 players out of action for their trip to the Abbey, including danger man Aiden McGeady. Couple that with their recent dodgy form including being held to a draw by 10-man Shrewsbury in the week, and with a sold out crowd on our backs, it could point to a magnificent afternoon in CB5. It’ll be a hell of a game, that’s for sure…

Listen to the latest podcast below with a full preview with the brilliant Roker Report.

Takeaways from Bonner’s presser

  • Bonner in bullish mood, says the days of being in awe of teams in this league are over.
  • Feels we’ve adjusted to the level now.
  • Lloyd Jones back on the grass but Saturday might be too soon.
  • Tracey should play a part.

Expected line-up

We think he’ll go with the same as Tuesday but with Wesley coming back in. Weir misses out.

Mitov, Williams, Masterson, Iredale, Dunk, Brophy, Smith, Digby, May, Hoolahan, HMS Ironside

Opposition preview

Well I’ve already bigged Sunderland’s “big boy” credentials up in the intro, but they might not be quite as imposing in 2021 as they were in 1973 (or pick another year they were good). Their injury list looks long, and regardless their form has been interesting to say the least.

A Sunderland fan I’m friends with dropped me a text saying “I’m very worried I’m going to be getting an excitable message from you at 5pm tomorrow”. That tells you everything about their state of mind going into this game, and what my friends think of me.

Recommended viewing ahead of the game is ‘Sunderland Til’ I Die’ on Netflix. A brilliant two series delving deep into their fanbase as they look to bounce back to the Premier League, but instead document the club falling apart around them. And there’s a taxi driver who very excitedly says “We’re not Watford or Cambridge” – well look at little ol’ Cambridge now mate!

Latest podcast is here for a full preview.

Who is their player to watch?

I was all set to write about how on his day, Aiden McGeady is still one of the best in the league. However, news today is that McGeady is out for 12 weeks with a knee injury.

Injuries seem to be an issue for the Black Cats at the moment with up to 10 rumoured to be out. Given our weaknesses at the back, I fear Ross Stewart could be a physical test for us.

Who’s in the dugout?

‘Streaky’ Lee Johnson, son of former U’s manager,Gary Johnson.

Johnson was appointed to replace Jack Ross in late 2019. Ross had narrowly missed out on promotion the season before and had Sunderland 6th in the table at the time of his departure. 

There seems to be growing discontent towards Sunderland’s Head Coach from sections of the fan base.  But isn’t there always?

What’s their recent form like?

Streaky.

Sunderland’s start to the season was seriously impressive, registering 8 wins from their opening 9 fixtures. More recently a run of 4 straight defeats in the league and FA Cup led to questions being asked of Johnson. Whilst a win last weekend over Ipswich had looked to ease the pressure on Johnson, a poor result midweek against 10 men Shrewsbury has left more questions being asked.

L-L-L-W-D

Any ex-United players?

Nope. However, fan favourite Lionel Perez will be on the pitch at half-time and this more than fills the ex-player quota. LIONEL! LIONEL! LIONEL! 

Last time out

Our last encounter with Sunderland also happens to be United’s biggest defeat in the modern era. 

Sunderland, managed by Peter Reid, arrived at the Abbey for this Worthington Cup affair, bottom of the Premiership. There would be no cup upset as a full strength Sunderland put United to the sword. Tore Andre Flo and Marcus Stewart, both signed for 10 mil each, bagged braces and the Black Cats won 7-0. Fortunately I’ve not been able to find any YouTube footage, but enjoy the below team sheet.

A match day album to listen to

It’s always been hard to pin down Parquet Courts’ sound. Their brand of music has always been about avoiding labels and constantly shifting their focus with each album. This one is all about the strut. It’s a street-level, dancing, pop infused festival of rhythm. And I’m absolutely here for it.

The UTAS team’s terrible Moosenet predictions

Jordan: 2-1 Smith

Julian: 2-1 Big Joe

Swindle: 1-1 Smith

Owen: 3-0 Ironside

Tom: 2-2 Big Joe

From the archive

Past Cambridge visits to Sunderland seem to result in high scoring draws that go down as classics. A win for Bonner’s United will undoubtedly go down as a modern day classic and how’s this for inspiration, a storming 3-0 victory at the Abbey from October 1991. Goals courtesy of Dion, Wilkins and Dennis. 

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