AHEAD of David Moyes’ return to Anfield we spoke to Eve Sayers from Sunderland fanzine A Love Supreme to get the lowdown on Liverpool’s upcoming opponents.
Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and A Love Supreme
I’m a 21 year old Sports Journalism graduate and now produce live text commentaries for Goal and ply my trade as a SEO writer. I’ve been going to Sunderland games since I was four years old (presumably for my sins in a past life) and have an undying love for Lee Cattermole.
A Love Supreme has been going for over 25 years and was founded to give fans a voice, we’ve gone from strength to strength ever since.
Sunderland had a dreadful start to the season but have started a mini-revival in the last two games, what have you made of recent results?
The last two games have definitely given everyone at the club a boost, from David Moyes, to the players, to the fans. There was definitely a dark cloud hanging over the club prior to that Bournemouth game and the players were bereft of confidence, with a lot of them looking completely uninterested.
Every man and his dog was having their say on our record prior to that game — the worst start to a Premier League season — and rightly so, but we showed that that wasn’t what we’re about. To turn the game around from a goal down and being down to ten men was a huge effort from the lads and it has instilled a lot of confidence and belief into the squad.
The Hull game was equally as pleasing as everyone did their bit and we managed to make it back-to-back wins. Jordan Pickford pulled off an excellent double save to secure his first clean sheet of the season, Jason Denayer executed the holding midfield role perfectly, Victor Anichebe showed everyone why Moyes was right to bring him to the club and Jermain Defoe continued to prove that he was a credit to the Premier League.
David Moyes’s future has already been called into question, are Sunderland fans convinced he’s the right man for the job?
I think before the Bournemouth game, there was a split between Sunderland fans. I personally wanted us to stick with him, I’ve wanted him at the Stadium of Light for a long time and I’m desperate for him to be a success, but I also know that a lot of fans were tired of his negativity and his bewildering substitutions. I think the past few results have bought him a lot of time and a patience from fans now and they’re more willing to stick by him. A lot of our fan base were hung up on the idea of Big Sam returning but that ship sailed long ago.
Is there a belief that he can keep you in the Premier League or will it take more managerial upheaval to achieve that?
I think the majority of fans want him to stay as he’s proved that he genuinely wants to take the club forward and has indicated he can do so. He is the man for the job and the only one to keep up us the league, another season of the managerial merry-go-round and a last gasp 17th place finish would drive a lot of the fans away in my opinion. We’re sick of the same mundane routine and sacking Moyes runs the risk of continuing that but if we stick with him, he can take the club forward.
The manager has been credited with giving youth a chance, particularly with the likes of Jordan Pickford and Lynden Gooch, is this something fans are pleased to see?
Seeing the youngsters break into the first team is always something that fans love to see. We’ve got a real quality academy up here and it’s recently fell under criticism from fans but the abundance of youth now in and around the first team shows that it is producing and our set-up is working.
Everyone is talking about Jordan Pickford and as his chant goes “he’s one of our own” so it’s fantastic to see a local lad doing so well and a lot of people, including non-Sunderland fans are tipping him to be England’s future number one so of course this fills with a lot of a pride.
Gooch is another immense talent, at the age of 20 he already has a number of minutes for the USA first team under his belt and is held in regard by us. Joel Asoro is another exciting talent who has made his first team debut and is playing fantastically well for the under-23s, a number of the top European clubs are tracking him and he’s definitely a name to remember.
Moyes has received a lot of his criticism during his time here but he deserves credit for the way he is utilising the youth squad, a lot of previous managers have completely overlooked youth so fair play to him for acknowledging our young talents.
Papy Djilobodji is suspended for Saturday’s clash, how big a miss will he be in the Sunderland back line?
Djilobodji has received a lot of stick this season but for me, out of our centre-halves he’s been the more competent performer. Like Moyes said, he hasn’t been making as many mistakes as people are thinking and he works a lot harder than Lamine Kone. Whilst he will be a miss, however, I’m not too concerned as I would have rather Moyes played John O’Shea at the back at Anfield. It will be a massively tough game for us as, apart from Chelsea, Liverpool are the in-form team in the league and O’Shea’s experience and leadership could make a huge difference.
Jermain Defoe has bailed the Black Cats out on a few occasions already this season, are there any other dangermen in the ranks?
Obviously Defoe is the man to watch and definitely the biggest threat in our side but lately, Anichebe has proved that he’s able to punish teams. He can be nuisance for defenders and has proved his eye for goal.
Wahbi Khazri can also pose a threat, for me, he’s our most competent attacking midfielder and winger, though he seems to have fallen out favour under Moyes so it’s unlikely he’ll play at Anfield. He’s great at set-pieces though and gives us an edge in that respect so it would be nice if he did get a run out.
And who would you identify as the star men from Liverpool’s side?
Liverpool are having a great season so there’s a lot of players to praise. I think the two best performers, however, are definitely Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian duo have been involved in the majority of Liverpool goals this season and look unstoppable, Coutinho has five goals and five assists to his name already so he needs to be marked tightly for sure. Firmino has the exactly same tally as his teammate so must also be watched closely.
Where do you expect both sides to finish this season?
I can’t see Liverpool finishing top this year but I think they’ll be somewhere near, I’m going for a third place finish for the Reds.
Sunderland on the other hand is anyone’s guess, it would be lovely if we could break into the top seventeen for a change but I won’t get my hopes up. I think we’ll be around our usual 17th mark, maybe 16th at a push.
Finally, can we have a score prediction for the game?
Despite our recent games, I think we’ll struggle at Anfield, I’m going for a solid 2-0 home victory. I can’t see us getting on the scoresheet and I’d be tempted to rest Defoe and go for five in midfield as we’ve often been overran in the middle of the park and will struggle to cope with Liverpool’s quality.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
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