I know he isn't ours anymore, but man do I miss him sometimes.
Well, after the frankly shambolic showing at Blackburn on Tuesday night, it's fair to say that we would all like to see a better performance this weekend at the Stadium of Light. We were brought down to earth somewhat in midweek, but Saturday offers us the opportunity to show Mark Hughes that we, emphatically, made the correct choice in appointing Martin O'Neill ahead of him.
Sunderland Team News
Tuesday night was a strange one, and we have all thought as some point this week that the players had one eye on the FA Cup tie. Unfortunately, if that was the case, you have to wonder what will happen this weekend, given that the Everton match is only a few days, rather than a week away.
The good ship Sunderland actually releases very little news on injuries since Martin O'Neill took the helm, which means that we'll have to presume that the squad shows no signs on recovery since Blackburn. With that in mind, it suggest that the game will come too soon for Richardson and O'Shea (although O'Shea has the better chance), meaning that our replacements will have another chance to deputise.
The good news is of course that our wizard from Benin has now served his three match ban for stroking Tiote's chest with his elbow. We were crying out for his trickery on Tuesday night, and it will be a boost to the whole team to have him back and playing. Sessegnon will of course be brought right back into the starting lineup, with the most likely casualty being Fraizer Campbell, who had an awful night at Ewood Park.
Elsewhere, in midfield, this could be the game that sees Craig Gardner and Seb Larsson given a rest given that both have been off the pace in recent weeks. David Meyler and Ahmed Elmohamady wait in the wings to replace.
Despite the Everton match, I wouldn't be surprised to see O'Neill play as close to his first team as possible for this one, given our poor performance during the week, and the fact that the SOL will be rocking thanks to the ticket deal being offered for the game.
QPR Team News
This week's visitors come to the Stadium of Light on a high after beating Liverpool on Wednesday night. Despite being 2-0 down with only 13 minutes to go, QPR refused to give up the fight and came away with a 3-2 victory. However, that was only one of two victories that they have picked up in the last 17 games.
Possibly the biggest news for the weekend is the return of Djibril Cisse. Okay, so he won't be wearing our red and white stripes, nor will he be Sunderland's number nine, so we can only hope that he has 'one of those days', that we became accustomed to during his time here. With any luck, those of you sitting within 40 yards of each of the goals will have a busy time shielding themselves. Maybe take an umbrella guys.
Elsewhere, serial tweeter and general bellend Joey Barton may also make a return to the North East, although he may be too busy sitting on the bench, quoting stats about masturbation and turning on his own fans. Barton's gone a little bit weird recently, even by his own standards, and there's every chance he will get an entertaining reception from both our supporters, and his own.
On top of that, recent Roker Report interviewee Anton Ferdinand should make a return to the club, as will hero of Stamford Bridge, Nedum Onouha.
SAFC: Mignolet; Bardsley, Turner, Kyrgiakos, Bridge; Larsson, Colback, Gardner, McClean; Sessegnon; Bendtner
QPR: Kenny; Taiwo, Ferdinand, Young, Onouha; Diakate, Derry, Taarabt, Barton; Cisse, Zamora
We go all the way back to 2004 for this match up, and it's really just a chance to show how far we have come since then. Fans with a good memory will remember QPR coming to the SOL and leaving with a point at the beginning of the Championship season.
It was the visitors who took the lead thanks to a goal from Paul Furlong, although Marcus Stewart was on hand to tie things up in the first half. Although a Martin Rowlands strike had handed them the lead again, Sunderland were rescued by a 90th-minute Caldwell header, sending a crowd of only 26,000 home slightly happier than they had been for the few minutes beforehand.
However, we should mention that any kind of result in this game was an achievement for us, considering that the one and only Jeff Whitley was part of the midfield on that day.
Get Rich Quick
Remember the betting that we did for the Everton game? And how I said that I enjoy wagers that earn a fair bit of money? Well that was stupid, wasn't it? Personally, I stuck a quid on a 1-1 draw, so although I won, you won't have if you followed my instructions.
With that in mind, you would imagine that I'd simplify things this time around. But, bugger that. What's the fun in betting if you don't win a fair bit of money, eh?
- This tie had a lot of goals in it at Loftus Road. A 3-2 victory to the lads pulls in odds of 25/1, not a bad result when you remember that is the same score that we won by in the reverse fixture.
- The stats show that our visitors have scored 50% of their goals in the first half of games, which surprisingly is a division high. Taking that into account, you can pick up odds of 22-1 on QPR winning at half time, Sunderland to win at full time.
- We all know that former players have a habit of notching against their old clubs, so in a purely pessimistic look at things, you can get odds of 40/1 on Nedum to score first or last, and that rises to 50/1 if you want Anton to be the goalscorer instead.
- And my final, big money silly bet that I enjoy comes courtesy of a Phil Bardsley opening goal and a resounding 4-0 win. Stick a pound on it, it will earn you something in the region of £450.