“She’s into superstitions, black cats and voodoo dolls”
(Livin’ la Vida Loca - Ricky Martin)
As you can probably gather from the charmless contemporary lyrics used to introduce this piece, I’ll be doing the match preview this week as my esteemed colleague Welsh is enjoying a break in sunnier climbs…
Sunderland make the first of two consecutive Saturday visits to Walsall this weekend, as the sides meet in a league game for the first time in 14 years.
The Wearsiders arrive at Bescot second in the League One table with a record of P17 W10 D6 L1 and the healthiest goal difference in the division, +19. They will also be boosted by a bumper away following, as we face the ignominy of being out-numbered by visiting supporters for the second home game on the trot.
Unbeaten at home, Sunderland have also been pretty imposing on the road, though their only defeat of the season did come away at the hands of Burton Albion. The Mackem’s recent league form is as follows:
Nov 17th - Wycombe Wanderers (H) - Drew 1-1
Nov 3rd - Plymouth Argyle (A) - Won 2-0
Oct 27th - Southend United (H) - Won 3-0
Oct 23rd - Doncaster Rovers (A) - Won 1-0
Oct 20th - Sloppies (A) - Won 2-0
Oct 6th - Bradford City (A) - Won 2-1
The last game between the sides took place in March 2004, a 3-1 win for Sunderland in a Division One game at Bescot. Julio Arca, Kevin Kyle and Marcus Stewart were on target for the visitors and though Neil Emblem’s 53rd minute equaliser offered a glimmer of hope, it was cancelled out within 60 seconds of the re-start.
Sunderland, who featured former-Saddler Darren Byfield, finished third in the league but fell in the play-offs, Walsall were relegated on goal difference.
Our last win against Saturday’s visitors came in February 1989, where a Stuart Rimmer hatrick saw the Saddlers earn the most unlikely of 3-0 victories at Roker Park, ending a 22 game run without a win in all competitions that spanned from a 2-0 defeat of the same opposition in October the previous year.
Jimmy Walker started the season at Sunderland as a goalkeeping coach, but has since moved to Ipswich, so there are no current links between the clubs. The most recent player to have represented both clubs, to the best of my knowledge, is Sunderland-born Jordan Cook.
Also worth mentioning is Brazilian forward Marcus di Giuseppe (better remembered as Bica) who was on the books of both clubs during the 1999-2000 season.
As we enter a tough run of fixtures it’s difficult to predict any unforced personnel changes after the encouraging performance against Fleetwood. It’s worth noting that George Dobson is still just one yellow card away from an automatic ban, especially with difficult games against Portsmouth (League) and Sunderland (FAC) on the very immediate horizon.
Feel free to make your own, nail heads.
- Walsall Win
- Sunderland Win