Andrea Dossena

Watch Live: Aston Villa vs. Sunderland (Lineups and Discuss)

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Last time Sunderland paid a visit to Villa Park, the Black Cats came out on the wrong end of a 6-1 scoreline. Is it possible that Aston Villa can humiliate the visitors in the same manner today? (10 am ET, watch live online via NBC Sports Live Extra).

It’s highly unlikely that the Villa will put in six goals today. They’ve managed just 13 thus far this season and, after going four games without a goal, it was rather surprising that they scored two in each of their last two outings. At West Brom on Monday night, Villa needed a triple change to come back from 2-0 down, with Paul Lambert bringing in Gabby Agbonlahor, Andi Weimann and Fabian Delph. Unsurprisingly, those three start this match, while Yacouba Sylla, Libor Kozak and Aleksandar Tonev drop to the bench. Lambert’s also replaced Nathan Baker with the recently recovered Antonio Luna at left back.

The visitors are still hoping for some sort of miracle to pull them up from the bottom of the table. The appointment of Gus Poyet has yet to work those miracles, although they have managed two wins, a derby victory against Newcastle and a 1-0 win over Manchester City. The Black Cats have yet to notch more than a point on the road, but with Villa having such inconsistent home form, could today be their day?

In an attempt either to keep the Italian from leaving or to actually create more potency in the attack, Fabio Borini returns to the starting lineup. He’s joined by fellow Italian Andrea Dossena, while a man most Villa fans love to hate, Craig Gardner, also comes into the starting lineup. Jozy Altidore remains on the bench, where he’ll be crossing his fingers that he can make an impact as a substitute.

Lineups

Aston Villa: Guzan, Bacuna, Vlaar, Clark, Luna, Delph, Westwood, El Ahmadi, Agbonlahor, Benteke, Weimann

Subs: Steer, Baker, Lowton, Albrighton, Sylla, Tonev, Kozak

Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley, Dossena, Brown, O’Shea, Giaccherini, Larsson, Gardner, Ki, Borini, Fletcher

Subs: Pickford, Roberge, Celustka, Colback, Johnson, Cattermole, Altidore

Premier League Roundup: Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United win big

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What a tremendous day of action on Saturday, as Week 10 of the Premier League delivered plenty of goals and some massive wins for the big teams.

Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal all bagged big victories, while Chelsea were upset at Newcastle and West Brom piled on more misery to Crystal Palace.

Stoke’s goalkeeper Asmir Begovic got on the scoresheet, while Hull City beat 9-man Sunderland.

So, if you want a little taster of what happened in every single game, look no further than right here as we recap all the action from the eight games played on Saurday.

Enjoy.

Arsenal 2-0 Liverpool

Goals in either half from Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey sealed a massive win for the Gunners who went five points clear at the top of the table. Liverpool rarely threatened as Arsene Wenger’s men eased to victory at the Emirates.

Fulham 1-3 Manchester United

A splendid start to the game saw United 3-0 up after 22 minutes with goals from Antonio Valencia Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney putting the result beyond doubt. A second half consolation did little to ease Fulham’s woe as the Red Devils got back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

Hull City 1-0 Sunderland

An own goal from Carlos Cuellar was enough to hand all three points to the Tigers, and Sunderland didn’t make life easy on themselves as both Lee Cattermole and Andrea Dossena were sent-off before half time to leave the Black Cats with nine-men for most of the game.

Manchester City 7-0 Norwich City

Seven different goalscorers hit the back of the net for City, and it could’ve been even more after they took their foot off the gas after the break. Leading 4-0 at half time, City were in cruise control and reacted perfectly to the 2-1 loss at Chelsea last weekend. The big story before the game was Joe Hart being dropped, and his replacement Costel Pantilimon was hardly tested as he recorded a clean sheet.

Newcastle United 2-0 Chelsea

What a win for the Magpies as they weathered an early storm in the first half at St. James’ Park before putting in a great second half display. Yoan Gouffran’s header put them ahead, before Loic Remy sealed the win late on after Chelsea had battered the Newcastle goal.

Stoke City 1-1 Southampton

The Potters went ahead after just 12 second in crazy fashion, as goalkeeper Asmir Begovic scored from inside his own box. Stoke’s ‘keeper launched a long ball forward and caught Artur Boruc off guard with a massive bounce. But the Saints responded well as Jay Rodriguez equalized before half time and they had numerous chances to win the game. Draw probably a fair result.

West Brom 2-0 Crystal Palace

Big win for the Baggies who climb comfortably into midtable after dispatching a spirited Palace side. Youngster Saido Berahino finished coolly before Gareth McAuely’s late header sealed the win. Nine defeats from 10 games for the Eagles…

West Ham 0-0 Aston Villa

The Hammers and Villans played out a game that won’t live long in the memory. With plenty of injuries, Villa held firm despite plenty of pressure from West Ham who have now failed to score in six of their 10 PL games this season. Back to the drawing board for both sides.

Hull City 1-0 Sunderland: a nightmare for nine-man Sunderland

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It would be hard to picture this match going worse for Sunderland. A loss, an own goal, and two men sent off before the whistle blew for the interval. At they only lost by one? But with Gus Poyet’s men down deep in the drop zone, that probably doesn’t bring much comfort. Hull, meanwhile, are reveling in the Black Cats’ mistakes, with the three points keeping them in the top half of the table.

Carlos Cuellar got things started at the KC Stadium, but probably not in the way he would’ve preferred. Trying to prevent Liam Rosenior’s cross from reaching Yannick Sagbo, the Sunderland defender headed the ball into his own net. The goal may not have come from one of his own men, but Steve Bruce still looked like the tiger that got the cream.

Things got worse for Gus Poyet in the 40th minute, when Sunderland goalkeeper Kieren Westwood picked up an injury after a nasty collision with Paul McShane. Although it appeared Westwood would be able to continue, it was just a few minutes before Vito Mannone had to be deputized, his first league appearance for the Black Cats.

And then it just all got a bit comical. First Lee Cattermole showed himself happy to be back in the starting lineup, celebrating with a typical effusive challenge. The midfielder took out Ahmed Elmohamady and earned himself a straight red for his trouble. Then, not five minutes later, Andrea Dossena went chasing after a ball he’d idly misplaced and stomped on David Meyler on his way. A straight red marked the end of the Italian’s second-ever start with Sunderland.

Poyet used the half to make changes to protect his side: Adam Johnson was brought in for Jozy Altidore, and Wes Brown for Fabio Borini. Yet the switch wasn’t entirely defensive, so the question must be asked: How on earth did Hull not score? They had a two man advantage. They absolutely peppered Mannone’s goal with shots. Yet from the 24 shots put in, a mere two were on target. With the Black Cats digging in, most of the flurry of shots were blocked. Jake Livermore managed to hit the post, but that’s as close as the Tigers came.

Guess Hull are lucky Sunderland were kind enough to do the scoring for them.

Hull City: Harper, Rosenior (Proschwitz 70), Figueroa, Davies, McShane, Huddlestone, Livermore, Elmohamady, Boyd (Brady 76), Meyler (Koren 57), Sagbo

Subs not used: Jakupovic, Faye, Quinn, Gedo

Goals: Cuellar og 25′

Sunderland: Westwood (Mannone 43), Bardsley, Dossena, O’Shea, Cuellar, Cattermole, Colback, Larsson, Borini (Brown 46), Fletcher, Altidore (Johnson 46)

Subs not used: Gardner, Celustka, Giaccherini, Sung-Yueng

Red cards: Cattermole 45+2; Dossena 45+6

Reimagining Sunderland: Altidore, Fletcher, Borini and Giaccherini together could devastate

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Let’s take a brief moment to reimagine Sunderland.

After setting the record for the worst ever start in the Barclays Premier League (1 point in the first eight matches), the Black Cats grabbed their first three points of the season defeating rivals Newcastle 2-1 in the Wear-Tyne derby.

The victory seemed inspired by a number of things, not the least of which was the hiring of Gus Poyet following the dismissal of Paulo Di Canio. Yet while Poyet earned the result his side needed, the Uruguayan arguably did so without utilizing the best talent his side has to offer.

Coming out in 4-4-2 formation against Newcastle Poyet deployed a back line of Phil Bardsley, Carlos Cuellar, John O’Shea and Andrea Dossena, a midfield four of Adam Johnson, Lee Catermole, Jack Colback and Seb Larrson, with a front two of Jozy Altidore and Steven Fletcher.

Putting Altidore and Fletcher in the same side was a great play by Poyet, a move that Di Canio fooled with but never seemed convinced by. While Altidore and Fletcher both typically play as the top striker in the 10 spot, they are by no means mutually exclusive forwards.

With his size and hold up play, Altidore is able to play higher up the pitch while Flether’s skill and versatility allows him to play in the hole of a 4-2-3-1 formation. What becomes difficult, however, is involving Fabio Borini, who more than proved his worth on Sunday when he cracked an 84th minute winner into the top corner.

On that play, Borini swooped in from the left wing to collect Altidore’s layoff before unleashing from the center of the park. It was a run that left Mathieu Debuchy and the right side of Newcastle’s midfield baffled. Borini’s speed, along with his ability to create off the dribble, make him an excellent option on the wing, where he was occasionally used at Roma.

Which is why Adam Johnson needs to sit. On his day, Johnson can create and devastate but when is the last time that happened? The spring 2013 Tyne-Wear derby? Johnson’s inconsistency needs to be addressed through a benching.

Sunderland also would be a far more dangerous team with Emanuele Giaccherini on the right wing. With his pace, skill and knack for finding the back of the net, the Italian has been the Black Cats’ brightest offensive talent this season, which made Poyet’s decision to bench him in last weekend’s derby quite surprising.

Whether that omission was due to a knock or a disagreement between player and coach has not been made public. But assuming all is well with Giaccherini, he is an absolute must start for Sunderland going forward.

The fear in deploying a front four of Altidore, Borini, Fletcher and Giaccherini, is that the club would be liable defensively. But, as was evident in Debuchy’s back post goal, Johnson is rarely interested in playing defense and there’s little to suggest Borini is much worse. Giaccherini’s tackling may not be his best gift but his furious work ethic has proven more than enough to frustrate the opposition.

Bolstering the midfield defense is the holding pair of Lee Catermole and Jack Colback, who Poyet used against Newcastle. That decision suffocated the middle of the park for Newcastle as Catermole put in his best performance of the season. With these two cleaning up in front of the back four, Sunderland possess the necessary balance to unleash Altidore, Fletcher, Borini and Giaccherini as a front four.

The best decision Poyet made last weekend was to infuse his side with confidence and to urge them to take the game to Newcastle. Despite only having accumulated four points this season, the Black Cats possess some pretty impressive talent. If the Uruguayan can manage to get his best unit on the pitch at the same time, fear of relegation on Wearside could be a thing of the past.