English Premier League – Sunderland 2011 Preview
There are a lot of reasons for those around Sunderland to be excited for the year after finishing tenth overall in the Premier League just a season ago. The Black Cats have high aspirations for the coming season, but have lost a couple of key players that will hamper their chances.
Now they will need to focus on filling those holes and move forward so that they can build upon their success last year rather than be step back.
Odds to win the 2011-12 Premiership outright 2,000/1
The team did loose striker Barren Bent, but immediately added Conner Wickham from Ipswich who looked magnificent last year in the Championship, However, Asamoah Gyan is expected to get the start over Wichham. In the midfield, Jordan Henderson was shipped off to Liverpool but quickly replaced him with a very promising player in Craig Gardner. Both of these additions were great for the team as they added to their talent even though they lost two key players to transfers.
Sunderland also added to its defense over the transfer season with two great defenders. John O’Shea and Wes Brown came over from Manchester United, and the side should be happy to have acquired such promising defenders that have experience playing in the top flight.
They also added goalkeeper Keiran Westwood of Coventry, thus improving upon their weakest position on the squad.
Last year, Simon Mignolet started the majority of the games, and looked disastrous all year, giving up 35 goals in 23 total games. His backup, Craig Gordon, didn’t fair any better in his 15 starts conceding over 20 goals. By adding Westwood, their defense jumped up several notches in terms of talent and production, and now, paired with O’Shea and Brown, the team has arguably the best backfield in the lower half of the table.
Still, the main question mark on the squad has to be their attacking front.
They did add Gyan and Wickham in place of their losses, but Gyan will be gone in February playing in the African Cup of Nations. When this happens, Wickham will no doubt need to step up and be the team’s number-one option. Their current first option, Frazier Campbell, is working to come back from a lengthy stint on the sidelines, and if he doesn’t come back by the time Gyan is gone, they could be very, very thin in the front.
In all, the team should be able to pull out draws when no one expects them to, but to think that they can have the same success against the top teams that they had last year is a bit of a stretch.
The Black Cats are surly on the upswing, but it will be tough going for them, especially if the injury bug comes into play. The team is fairly thin in every position, but the starters that they do have should hold up against any team when healthy.
Their defense will no doubt shine and keep them in games that they shouldn’t be in, but don’t expect them to finish better then ninth.
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