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Sunderland AFC v man city (h)...
LINES FROM LONDON: EXILES BLOG

The results went badly for us yesterday and most of our main rivals are starting to hit some form so even if we win today, we’ll still be three points adrift of Palace who are fourth from bottom. The talk among my mates in Sam’s Bar last night was decidedly downbeat when we discussed football. To make things worse I didn’t realize we had to play Burnley again soon as I thought we’d already played them in the league twice and they’re one of our bogey teams (okay, who isn’t?). I can’t see anything but a good hiding this afternoon. We created very little against Everton last Saturday and were badly outpaced for their two goals so I dread to think what City’s attackers will get away with today. Still, as we know, anything can happen in the Premier League and the sun is beaming down so a teeny bit of optimism remains. The fact that we still have to play all of our rivals gives some hope that we can reduce the gulf that’s started to open up but we’ll have to improve a lot on our current form. I’ll be at the game in the East Stand. I haven’t heard any team news at this early hour but I doubt if we’ll see much change from last week’s starting eleven. Match prediction: 1-4.

After offering a few libations in Fitzie’s I was in my seat just before kick-off. There were no surprises with the line-up but Djilobodji was on the bench after his period of suspension. As my mate said, just as long as he stayed there we might be all right. We didn’t play too bad in the first half and won three corners to City’s two while hitting the post and having a couple of other decent efforts on target including a good Jones header. As is well known, the only stat that matters is the goals tally and City were one ahead through a clinically taken goal from Aguero three minutes before the break. I thought it had hit the side-netting but the awful silence from the bulk of the crowd and the shouts from the City fans up on high told their own story. They’d passed it around endlessly on the fringes of our box at times while our own passing was often as crap as it has been. Still, 0-1 at the break wasn’t the end of the world.

During half-time the mighty Nos came on to pick the lottery number and he received a good ovation form the fans who were still upstairs.

The second-half was painfully reminiscent of last week in that the hope offered by the first-half’s decent effort was utterly quashed by City’s superior pace, strength and skill. They got their second around the hour-mark and again it was a pacey move, this time down the left, that resulted in Sane firing low past Pickford. Our fans were making very little noise while the City fans chants were decidedly retro with them saying, “We’ve got GUAR-DI-O-LA” to the tune of the Dave Clark Five’s ‘Glad All Over’.  With about twenty minutes to go we replaced Gibson, most of whose passes had either been backwards or to a City player, with Rodwell. There was little crowd reaction to this move and it reminded me somehow of school-dinners when you had a choice of either sago or tapioca. Seven minutes later City brought on De Bruyne for Toure. You got the feeling that City were coasting but they were still having a go and if it wasn’t for a number of good saves from Pickford the final score would’ve been more like 0-5. We did have the ball in the net in the eighty-third minute but it was ruled out for offside. Khazri had come on fro Januzaj shortly before then and I can’t understand why we don’t use him more. The crowd was dwindling by the minute and though it’s not in me to leave before the whistle, I was rather hoping myself that the inevitable end would come sooner rather than later. By the time that the three minutes of stoppage-time were announced I’d say that 70% of our fans had left. Sure, it makes it easier to leave the East Stand when the final whistle goes but it’s a grim sight.

The mood among my coterie of friends is that relegation is inevitable and now we’re wondering what kind of team and which manager we’ll have in the Championship. Hi ho!

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