With another clash with Bolton looming, we once again caught up with the splendid Mike Yesilevskiy of Lion Of Vienna Suite blog.
We have all had a little time to digest the original tie now. What, in general, did you make of the game?
Mark: I thought that overall, it was a good game for Bolton and a good game for spectators. It was very much heads-up play from both Chung-Yong Lee and Marvin Sordell for Bolton's pair of goals. A defensive lapse and inability to clear led to Connor Wickham's goal (as it went through Andy Lonergan's legs). Finally, Craig Gardner's strike was just sublime. No point in being upset about that. On a different day, Lonergan's legs would have been a bit closer together and Gardner would have smacked the bar but it is what it is.
Having been two goals up and with home advantage, is there any sense that the opportunity to progress has passed Bolton by?
Mark: This whole season seems to be the opportunity slipping by over and over again. Bolton are unable to string wins together, unable to get clean sheets, and unable to climb the table. We're often playing opponents that we should be walking all over (and have in the past) and then losing 1-0 or 5-4. At this point, I'm not holding my breath.
A home tie with Everton awaits the victor. Does that add any incentive from Bolton's point of view?
Mark: Dougie Freedman said in his pre-match presser that he's using these games against Premier League sides to remind the lads what they missing by being in the Championship. I suppose that's the incentive. Other than that, I can't think of much. If the prize was, say, Blackburn or West Ham, it would be a different story.
Looking at the Championship table, it is striking that no team in the whole division has won fewer away games with the Trotters registering just a couple from thirteen attempts. What is going on there? Why such a big change from your home form which is almost a mirror image?
Mark: There are reports of players not caring, players not being up for the physical demand of the Championship, or the excuse of a long-standing hangover from relegation. There really is no explanation, consistency, or drive from so many of these players. The forwards aren't scoring goals and the team's early reliance on Chris Eagles (much like Sunderland and Steven Fletcher) has worn off. Coupled with the fact that Bolton just cannot keep clean sheets and that means we always have to score more than once, which at this point, is nigh on impossible.
So - the big question - how are Bolton going to win this one?
Mark: Honestly? Score three goals and hope to everything good that the Sunderland's forwards are off the mark. If you couldn't tell, confidence is lacking.
Last season, Connor Wickham put in a superb performance at the Reebok and his introduction during the first tie has been largely credited for changing the game. He must be annoying you a bit by now, right? Has he perhaps bumped himself up the list of Sunderland players you are wary of or do you still see greater threats elsewhere?
Mark: I'm extremely wary of Wickham, especially given his immediate impact in the initial match. Had it not been for Andy Longergan, Steven Fletcher would have been on the scoresheet more than once. Basically, anyone with pace and/or finishing scares the hell out of me right now. That said, it really all depends on what kind of day the defenders are having. If Tim Ream and Zat Knight are feeling up to it, they'll do well. If not not, they'll be playing sideways all day.
Finally, let's have a prediction!
Mark: I'll be optimistic and say 1-1 with Bolton winning on penalties.
Big thanks to Mark for once again answering yet another of our inquisitions! Be sure to follow him on Twitter and stop by his excellent Lion of Vienna Suite blog for all things Bolton Wanderers. It is genuinely one of the finest club-specific blogs out there.