Brilliant beginning to the EPL – Sunderland beat Spurs; On Tenacity

The season got underway today with a fascinating game between Spurs and Sunderland – wasn’t really a high quality game, and both teams looked rusty. What stood out for me was Sunderland’s determination to not make it easy for Spurs. McShane in particular was brilliant in defence, and there was only one major weak moment when the new keeper Gordon let the ball go through to Berbatov, who seemed to have been brought down…though my initial thought was that he just ran into the tackle. Sunderland held off for most of the match, and the only bit of quality up front from Michael Chopra in the 93rd minute got them the goal…a fairly familiar story for a club that doesn’t have many big players.
I was a little surprised that Keane took Kieron Richardson off in the second half – but his replacement – Miller – was sprightly and tenacious. Dwight Yorke’s age unfortunately showed on the pitch, he was outpaced easily…I think he’s going to be a weak link for Sunderland.
I usually pick one club to support from what expect will be the bottom half of the league – in the past, it’s been Portsmouth, Wigan and then Portsmouth again. I make this choice a few weeks into the EPL, but because Keane is coaching Sunderland, I’m supporting them.
ManUtd play Reading tomorrow. I thought they looked a little rusty during the community shield game as well, particularly Rooney. Ronaldo was, as always good, but Evra was fantastic. Didn’t get to see much from Nani. I think the midfield is going to be a lot stronger this year with Hargreaves coming on board. I think Liverpool are going to be a force to reckon with this year – they’ve finally got a striker – Torres – who should have been at ManUtd, really. Sad to see Rossi, Richardson, and particularly Alan Smith, leave ManUtd, and surprised that Gabriel Heinze wants to switch to Liverpool. One team that is likely to be underestimated this season is Arsenal, but they have skill and pace that many others don’t, even if the midfield looks weak.

Currently watching Man City vs West Ham, and Man City look in great touch. An almost completely new squad under former England coach Sven Goran Eriksson, they seem to have pace and quality…Manchester Derby’s are going to be fun.

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I’ve always admired Roy Keane for his tenacity…was in agreement with him when he had left ManUtd after a run-in with Alex Ferguson on some comments Keane had made about players – that they just weren’t trying hard enough. You could see it then – Alan Smith was then the only player making a fight of it in midfield. I just finished reading an excellent article on Keane and Sunderland:

It is why Keane’s hackles rise when ‘survival’ is mentioned within his earshot, as it was during Sunderland’s press call on Thursday. Silence, hard stare. “I hope that’s the last time you use that word,” he responded. Finally. “Certain words get attached to certain clubs and I don’t want that attached to Sunderland.” Did it make him angry? “No. This isn’t angry. You haven’t seen me angry.”

Neither has his club; not in public, at least. A model of decorum on the touchline during his debut season in management – when he lifted Sunderland from 22nd in the Coca Cola Championship to first place – and surprisingly personable with his peers, Keane is anticipating changes this season. The Premiership is no environment for faint hearts.

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1 Comment

  1. Well Sunderland have lost two since then, and my new favourite defender McShane has scored an own goal. I think it is going to be a tough tough fight for survival.

    Manutd are misfiring for the simple fact that they don’t have a reference point in attack. They’ll take some time to gel together.

    Arsenal, yes, are underestimated. Specially their midfield. Check this: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?xml=/sport/2007/08/17/sfnars117.xml

    (Sunderland are my new fave team in the EPL.)

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