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Sunderland v. Bolton

This is a fixture that always makes me nervous. I have pretty good reason as well, recent history goes very much against us. Darren Best alone has scored 4 goals in the past two games against us, as a team Sunderland have put 9 past us in the last 10 Premiership games against us. The Stadium of Light is a difficult place to go, Sunderland have lost once at home in the past 18 games. This season has seen Sunderland doing very well, they sit in 7th just two points behind Bolton. Steve Bruce's own history against Bolton has been good, his first game in charge being a victory at the Reebok. Despite all that, this season has been one of reversing trends for the Wanderers, and I think this game will continue this streak.

This week Anton Ferdinand joins Sunderland's ever-growing list of injured centre backs, which is very good for Bolton as defense has been key to the Black Cat's success this season. There is still plenty to worry about in this Sunderland team, notably Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan. They are Sunderland's top scorers, and have unsurprisingly looked excellent this season. We haven't kept a clean sheet since the opening day, and I doubt that will change tomorrow. It will be important for our defense to have as much support from the midfield as possible, leading me to once again favour Taylor in the never ending Taylor/Petrov conundrum. I would also have started Muamba anyway, because he's better at defending than Davies, although this obviously isn't an issue given Davies' suspension.

Steve Bruce has been warming up for the fixture by stirring the pot. He released a statement saying our play hadn't changed much under Coyle. Now, this is blatantly untrue to anyone who has watched Bolton this season, and while last weekend was certainly not our best football, and now is the chance to bounce back. Sunderland play effective football, but there won't be any surprises, and with the losses their squad has faced especially in defense, I really rate our chances. This probably will not be the prettiest game of the season, but we're still Bolton. Last weekend we overturned a mental block in the form of Blackburn, this weekend let's hope to do it with Sunderland.