Manchester — David Moyes called it just nine days into the
Asked after consecutive losses whether it will be another
relegation battle for Sunderland in the Premier League, the team's recently
hired manager said, "I think it will be. I don't think you can hide the
facts. That will be the case, yes."
Admirable honesty, sure, but exactly the kind of pessimism
Sunderland fans didn't want to hear so early in the season. It has set the tone
for another woeful start to a league campaign by the northeast club.
Sunderland is in last place in the Premier League, with just
two points from nine games, and is the only side in England's four professional
leagues without a league victory this season. It's the second consecutive
season in which Sunderland has failed to win any of its first eight league
games, which hasn't happened since Bury did so in 1905 and 1906.
With Arsenal heading to the Stadium of Light on Saturday on
an unbeaten run of 13 matches in all competitions, the likelihood is Sunderland's
misery will be prolonged another week.
Even for the greatest escapologists of the Premier League,
staying up this season will be some feat. The Black Cats may have run out of
Sunderland has narrowly avoided relegation for the past four
years via the same means: A mid-season managerial change followed by a drastic
upturn in late-season results. Steve Bruce was the last manager to complete a
full season at Sunderland — and that was in 2009-10.
Also read: Sunderland boss Moyes relishes return
Since then, Martin O'Neill (16 months across two seasons),
Paolo Di Canio (six months), Gus Poyet (18 months across two seasons), Dick
Advocaat (seven months), and Sam Allardyce (nine months) have come and gone
through the Stadium of Light's revolving door.
Moyes is the latest in the sorry cycle, and recent history
suggests he will not last the season before the club's American owner, Ellis
Short, reaches for another savior to keep Sunderland in the world's most
lucrative domestic league.
"You can change one guy," Moyes said, "but it
has been proved in the past here, that is not the answer."
Moyes was in charge of Everton for 11 years before being
hired by Manchester United in 2013 as Alex Ferguson's hand-picked replacement
with the aim of creating another dynasty at England's biggest club. He lasted
10 months at Old Trafford, the job proving far too big for him.
Moyes attempted to rebuild his reputation at Real Socieded
in Spain, but was fired a day before completing a year in charge. Now it's all
going wrong at Sunderland.
The squad lacks depth, although long-term injuries have
robbed Moyes of key players such as goalkeeper Vito Mannone, midfielder
Sebastien Larsson and forwards Adnan Januzaj and Fabio Borini. His policy of
signing former players from Manchester United and Everton — injury-prone pair
Steven Pienaar and Victor Anichebe among them — had an air of desperation about
it. Worryingly, Jermain Defoe, the 34-year-old former England striker, appears
the only reliable source of goals.
Moyes' latest disappointment occurred on Wednesday, when
Sunderland lost 1-0 at Southampton in the fourth round of the English League
Cup. Near the end of the match, Moyes was dismissed from the dugout for
swearing at an official when a penalty was not awarded for his side.
Has the 53-year-old Scot simply lost his touch?
"Our luck's out at the moment, but it will
change," Moyes said.
It hadn't by Thursday. The plane flying Sunderland's players
home from the Southampton match reportedly failed to take off in thick fog late
Wednesday, meaning they were left stranded on the south coast.
That's hardly the best preparation for Arsenal's visit.
Here's what else to look out for in the Premier League this
TOTTENHAM VS. LEICESTER
Leicester has lost by a three-goal margin in each of its
last three Premier League away games: 4-1 at Liverpool and Manchester United,
and 3-0 at Chelsea.
It doesn't get any easier for the champions, who must visit
unbeaten Tottenham on Saturday, four days before playing in the Champions
League against FC Copenhagen.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION VS. MANCHESTER CITY
Pep Guardiola is in the worst run of his managerial career
after City's winless streak extended to six games with a loss to Manchester
United in the League Cup on Wednesday.
While City remains top of the league, Guardiola will avoid
the kind of criticism that has been aimed at coaching rival Jose Mourinho at
United this season.
West Brom is possibly the most dangerous team in the league
from set pieces, and that is an area its manager, Tony Pulis, will surely
target at The Hawthorns on Saturday.For
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