Sunderland look mid-table material

September 9th, 2016 | Ian Carnaby's Sports News

If someone had told me that Kei Nishikori would break Andy Murray eight times, I’d have told him to take more water with it. In a truly astonishing match at the US Open, the Japanese played some of his very best tennis against a superior opponent who had looked almost invincible in his previous match against Grigor Dimitrov.

There is no point in regretting bets you would strike again. Murray again let things get to him when it became clear that this would be no cakewalk, while there is something enviably calm about Nishikori, who seemed to have thrown it all away when pegged back to 4-4 in the final set when a simple forehand volley would have made it 5-3. Still he came back to win and I think he deserves the utmost credit.
Back to the football. Until we see how both teams are settling down I cannot see any point in predicting the outcome of the Manchester derby this weekend and most of the other Premier League games look tricky, as well.

Sunderland v Everton on Monday evening will tell us just how much Ronald Koeman has achieved in a short time at Goodison and how well David Moyes has settled in at the Stadium of Light.

Moyes has been unfairly criticised by many. The Old Trafford job may not have been a poisoned chalice but Sir Alex left him with problems at centre=back for a start and some of the senior players were never going to accept him. I tend to ignore the unfortunate experience in Spain, where clubs expect miracles overnight. At St Mary’s a fortnight ago Sunderland looked well organised at the back and dangerous on the counter. In my view Moyes has made a very fair start and, if there is one thing the expert pundits still seem to overlook on a regular basis, it is home advantage.

When Koeman left Southampton, it seemed to me that it would take him a year to elevate Everton to the Saints’ position. He is very good but the steady progress of talented academy lads to the verge of the first team had stopped, Matt Targett apart. They may not have been good enough, of course, but increasingly he relied on a tightly-knit group of senior professionals. Maybe he always knew Wanyama and Mane would want away and, of course, Everton offered him a huge pay increase.

He didn’t recruit all the players he wanted in the summer and Everton are possibly a little flattered by their early positon. There is some 14/5 about SUNDERLAND and I’d say that is value. However it turns out, they are capable of avoiding another relation battle.
I wouldn’t offer ARSENAL at 3/5 against the Saints. The visitors’ defence may be bolstered by the return of Ryan Bertrand and should prove hard to break down but Arsenal generally win this fixture and will enjoy long spells of possession. Until Southampton sort out the best combination up front it will only take a goal or two to beat them and, whilst it would be ludicrous to suggest they face major problems, losing ten players in little more than two years HAS to take its toll. Also, of course, very few anticipated Koeman’s departure. It may take quite a while for Claude Puel to shape things his way and this looks a home win to me.

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