Sunderland resume their Sky Bet Championship campaign this weekend when they embark on a 500-mile round trip to Norwich City this weekend.
George Honeyman left Gigg Lane in an emotional state on Thursday evening, reeling from his first senior goal in red and white.
The Beekeeper’s intricate chip over Joe Murphy proved to be a match-winner which has set-up a second round Carabao Cup match at Carlisle United.
But there’s no time to rest as attention swiftly turned to tomorrow’s mammoth trip to Norwich before Sheffield Wednesday await in the middle of next week.
- Watch: Talking points from the presser.
- A dream come true - George Honeyman.
- Follow the action: Pre-match live!
With Carrow Road playing host to Sunderland’s third match in nine days, and their second of three successive away games, Simon Grayson admitted in his pre-match press conference on Friday he isn’t prepared to use the hectic fixture schedule as an excuse. The Black Cats boss made four changes to his team at Bury on Thursday, calling upon Wahbi Khazri, Darron Gibson, Adam Matthews and John O’Shea to start. James Vaughan, formerly at Norwich City, featured as a second-half substitute while Lamine Kone was unused and Lee Cattermole missed out through injury. Speaking yesterday though, Grayson confirmed Catts is available for selection while young starlet Josh Maja remains sidelined with a knee injury. Elsewhere, Robbin Ruiter completed 90 minutes for the under-23s on Friday evening, helping Elliott Dickman’s side to a 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur’s along with full-back Bryan Oviedo, who came through a 60-minute run-out unscathed, Jack Rodwell, Lynden Gooch, Donald Love and Papy Djilobodji.
ENTERING THE UNKNOWN
Like on Wearside, it has been a summer of change in Norfolk. While Sunderland’s appointment of Grayson provides a wealth of Football League experience, Norwich’s German route has certainly raised eyebrows. Head coach Daniel Farke arrived from giants Borussia Dortmund in the summer, providing fresh optimism among fans as he spearheads the new direction which the club had decided to take. Thirty-one players have come and gone at Carrow Road over the summer, with Jon Ruddy, Jonny Howson and Jacob Murphy all departing. Norwich head into Sunday’s match, like Sunderland, chasing their first win of the Sky Bet Championship season after an opening day draw at Fulham. Nelson Oliveira netted an 88th-minute equaliser before the Canaries edged past Swindon Town in the Carabao Cup. And as Sunday’s 1.30 kick-off approaches, Grayson admitted he is unsure what to expect from Farke’s new-look Canaries side.
Lewis Grabban scored on his competitive Sunderland debut last Friday, netting from the penalty spot against Derby County to level the opening Sky Bet Championship match of the season. On a season-long loan from AFC Bournemouth, Grabban was impressive throughout and went close to grabbing a second when his second-half effort smacked the post. This Sunday sees Grabban return to Carrow Road following his two-year spell with the Norfolk club between 2014-16. Grabban scored 13 goals in 31 league appearances for the Canaries before the Cherries picked the striker up for £7 million.
Everyone will remember Sunderland’s last trip to Carrow Road. The Black Cats headed to Norwich knowing victory was vital to having a chance of surviving in the 2016-17 Premier League season. With the Canaries holding a four-point advantage over the Black Cats at kick-off, defeat would’ve left Sam Allardyce’s side with a mountain to climb while victory would’ve seen the pendulum swing in Sunderland’s favour as the race for survival heated up. And boy did the pendulum swing. Fabio Borini scored a penalty in the first-half to get the lads’ noses in front in a cagey affair before the Italian turned provider in the second 45 for Jermain Defoe to stab home. Substitute Duncan Watmore then wrapped things up with a stoppage-time chip. A glorious, Sunderland win.
FOLLOW ALL THE ACTION
Sunderland fans wishing to travel to Norfolk without a match ticket can still gain entry, via cash turnstiles. All the information is available here.
But if you’re unable to attend the game we have comprehensive coverage of all the action as it happens across our digital channels, including our matchday centre.
Nick Barnes and Gary Bennett will be in the commentary booth from 1pm, with minute-by-minute analysis available right here and across social media from Twitter to Instagram.
Ha’way the Lads!