Sunderland vs. Manchester City, Match Preview 2-02-16
Sunderland: Mannone, Jones, O’Shea, Kone, van Aanholt, Catermole, M’Vila, Johnson, N’Doye, Borini, Defoe
Manchester City: Hart, Sagna, Otadmendi, Demichellis, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Touré, Navas, Silva, Sterling, Aguero
And there we have it, the worse kept managerial appointment has been confirmed and it is the sign of the magnitude of such an appointment that even once official it still shocked. Manchester City love a Deadline Day announcement. In 2008, Thaksin Shinawatra sold the club to the Abu Dhabi Group and consequently brought Robinho in from Real Madrid for a then British transfer record. Oh, it was crazy! Deadline has never been the same since. Regardless how many times Jim White check his phone, the January window can never match such drama. Yet Manchester City’s announcement of Guardiola appointment certainly overshadows Alex Pritchard’s loan move to West Brom.
How this will have effect the rest of City’s season is anyone’s guess. Manuel Pellegrini will undoubtedly operate in consummate professionalism. Yaya Touré will either give up or now be an unstoppable beast as he looks for a new club. Fabian Delph all of a sudden could play a part of the football revolution in the North East and become the poster boy of Pep’s Manchester City. Whilst not all these questions will be answered right away, Pep’s signature has broken the glass ceiling of the City project and where it ends up is anyone’s guess.
Whilst all this is speculative rubbish, an away trip to Sunderland is an interesting barometer to see where the City’s player’s mind set is currently, now knowing that Pellegrini will be leaving at the end of the season. I for one can’t look past Manchester City. It says a lot about this squad that the loss of De Bruyne is met with Silva staying central and then Sterling and Nevas playing out wide. The depth is startling. The big question of City always remains one about defence and in particular what happens when they are lacking their Prince. Vincent Kompany remains absent with a calf injury and without their talismanic defender City foundations look a far cry from solid.
For Sunderland, it is much more a case of beating the teams around them. Whilst a defeat is three points lost, Sam Allardyce would not have noted a little green tick next to Manchester City when he first took over.
Any transfer window when you are in the relegation zone, albeit only four points from safety, is a tough one. Yet Big Sam’s admission just five days before the window closes that he was keeping tabs on up to 60 players is an incredible state of affairs. Whilst money is constantly tight in Sunderland, such a statement also emphases just how poor Allardyce thinks this Sunderland squad might be. 60 players isn’t just one or two bodies who could come in and sprinkle a bit of quality, into the starting XI. This is a systematic admission that this squad needs a transfusion of footballing talent.
To have an educated guess to what team Sunderland might field against Manchester City is too sterner a task for myself. Despite looking like a collapsed deal earlier in the window, Allardyce finally got his man in Lamine Kone. The big Ivorian could walk straight into this game, and whilst potentially a baptism of fire, Kone would bring some much needed energy into the centre of the Sunderland defence. With Steven Fletcher leaving online to Marseille, Big Sam will be looking too Jermain Defoe to scoring in his recent upturn in form. After having a weekend off, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see new signings Wahbi Khazri and Dame N’Doye having some game time on Tuesday night.
Match Prediction: Sunderland 0-4 Manchester City
Rich, The Sweeper Football Blog