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Sunderland AFC v leicester (h)...

I’ve a feeling we’re going to get at least a draw today. Leicester were a revelation last season but they’ve come back to earth now and are clearly beatable, especially away. Despite the defeat at Liverpool, I liked the way we played in the first-half, though I wouldn’t like us to defend as deeply at home. I hope O’Shea will retain his position as with Vardy and Mahrez upfront Leicester are still a potentially dangerous attacking force. The continued absence of Schmeicel in goal can only help us. Our injury jinx claimed another victim this week with Gooch being laid up for a good while but it’s looking like both Seb and Kirchhoff will be in the squad today and that’s very good news. Hopefully I’ll be able to watch the match online after getting some advice from one of our readers, so thanks for that. Match prediction (sticking my neck out a bit): 2-1 to us.

I got home late from work and when I got the team-news about 2.30 I was disappointed to see Djilobodji starting while O’Shea was on the bench. Anyway, both Seb and Kirchhoff were on the bench too so that cheered me a bit. For Leicester, Slimani was included as well as Mahrez and Vardy. I tried to get firstrow sports’ stream but they were experiencing ‘technical difficulties’ so it had to be SAFSEE again. I thought they were having problems too as there was just silence coming across the ether but when the whistle went I realized it had been a minute’s silence for the Colombian air disaster. Football can certainly divide us but when it comes to the crunch, it’s something that unites so many of us all around the world.

We started brightly and had several chances in the opening minutes with the crowd being in very good voice. Commentator Gary Bennett reminded us that we had to take our chances or we’d regret it again. It wasn’t just a flash in the pan and we continue to rattle Leicester’s defence during the first fifteen minutes with Anichebe having a great game, holding things up and being the focal point of out attacks. Djilobodji was sounding solid and let’s hope he’s found some form. We had a real chance a couple of minutes later but Defoe skewed his shot and it went wide. The commentary team agreed that this was our best performance so far this season but we needed that first goal otherwise it meant nothing. Leicester won their first corner after twenty minutes and we got the first mention of Vardy, which says something, but it came to nothing. Elsewhere Burnley went one-down at Stoke, which was all to the good. Vardy had an effort just wide of our post from a free-kick and they were clearly starting to turn the tables. It remained goalless as we passed the thirty-minute mark but we’d gone off the boil. Benno said we were playing Anichebe too wide and he needed to be in the centre. Burnley went further behind at Stoke but Palace were 2-0 up against Southampton. As half-time approached our game evened out and not much was happening so that suited Leicester. Swansea went a goal down against Spurs and that tilted my mood back into goodish. Our game against Swansea next week is getting to be even more vital. Pienaar and Albrighton were down injured for a while and that put back the whistle but despite Leicester hitting the woodwork it was 0-0 at the break. After an opening flourish Leicester had taken the sting out of us.  

I got a stream from firstrow sports for the beginning of the second-half and it was great to see Seb and Kirchhoff coming on, for Denayer and the injured Pienaar. It was an end to end game in the opening stages. Ten minutes in, Leicester won a couple of corners in quick succession but we survived okay. Albrighton put in a great low cross from the left that Slimani hit goalwards but it bounced of Djilobodji and went clear. At the other end Watmore did well to get to the by-line and put in a cross but it was too high for Anichebe to connect with. Next thing Anichebe tried a low long-distance shot but Zieler had it well covered. Just after the hour we took the lead, from a set-piece of all things. Watmore won a corner on the right and when the ball came over Kirchhoff got a header on it and it took a big deflection off Huth to wrong-foot Zieler and hit the net. We had a very good penalty shout almost straightaway when Simpson tripped PVA but referee Marriner wasn’t having it. Our tails were up and the crowd were roaring us on as we pressed for a second. PVA was yellow-carded for diving and then Slimani was subbed by Okazaki. Defoe had a great shot from a tight angle but Zieler pushed it away. Seb was booked too for a tug and then Leicester played their last two subs, bringing on Gray and Mussa for Mahrez and Albrighton with just under twenty minutes to go. We got our second a few minutes later and it was a beaut. Anichebe started things by powering down the left and after Watmore’s shot had been deflected out Defoe, of course, was there to slam it straight into the bottom right corner giving the goalie no chance. Leicester pulled one back when Gray got the better of Jones down the left and put a low cross in that Okazaki flicked into the net. It was certainly going to be a grandstand finish. Fuchs was booked for a tackle on Watmore that left him on the ground in some pain before he was stretchered off. Manquillo came on to replace him. There was bound to be a good deal of stoppage-time just to add to the tension. Simpson was injured when he tangled with Anichebe and Leicester were effectively down to ten men. Six minutes of stoppage-time were announced. ‘Red and White Army!” was booming out as the seconds ticked away. With just over a minute on the clock Leicester took a corner with their goalie Zieler up for it but we cleared it only for the ball to come back and Pickford, as ever, made a crucial save to keep us ahead. That was the last real action and that whistle blew deliciously to confirm another win.

Swansea got a good hiding and we’re off the bottom again, and even above Hull too, just to set things up nicely for next week. Now we can relax and hope Arsenal stuff West Ham.

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