LEE Cattermole is looking at Saturday’s visit of Chelsea as a “fresh start” to Sunderland’s season, and hopes Nicklas Bendtner will provide the buzz to finally get it going.
The Black Cats have gone into September with no wins and only one goal from four matches. There were defeats in the Wear-Tyne derby and the Carling Cup – a competition they could have expected a good run in.
Building momentum in the opening weeks has been difficult with a round of internationals in the lead-up, another now, and a worldwide transfer window.
But Cattermole thinks the break could have worked in Sunderland’s favour, particularly as they used it to sign Arsenal’s Bendtner on a season-long loan. “I’ve always liked him,” said the Black Cats skipper. “He’s a big presence, he’s got an attitude about him.
“I don’t know him as a person but as a player he’s got ability.
“You don’t play for Arsenal if you don’t. Hopefully we can get the best out of him as a team and maybe he can get the best out of a couple of other players.” Strong with a good touch, 6ft 5in Bendtner – who scored twice for Denmark against Norway last night – brings experience to the stable of strikers on Wearside.
Despite making the majority of his Arsenal appearances from the bench, he has 40 Premier League starts – 40 more than Connor Wickham and Ji Dong-Won. Asamoah Gyan has cut a disillusioned figure recently amid rumours of moves to Tottenham Hotspur, Turkey or Marseille.
He and deeper-lying partner Stéphane Sessègnon are yet to score this season, despite the latter’s impressive pre-season.
“I don’t know how much of an out-and-out striker Stéphane is,” Cattermole reflected. “He does really well in the hole, but I’m not sure how many goals he’ll get us. There was a lot of pressure on Asa being the only experienced striker.
“Nicklas played a lot down the left for Arsenal but I think he’s better in the middle. He’ll definitely be playing up front for us, I’m sure of that. I’m really looking forward to seeing him. He can only help us at the minute.
“He could play on Saturday and be on fire, we could win 3-0 again, or he could have a stinker. You just don’t know. You need a bit more time to prepare for it ideally but we haven’t got that.”
Having so many players on international duty has hampered preparations, with manager Steve Bruce taking time off to recharge his batteries.
“It’s frustrating,” Cattermole added. “We’ve had seven or eight training and we can’t do any work on the team.
“It’s like a new start for us. It’s going to be fresh with lads coming back. Nicklas will be coming in and he’ll bring a little buzz to the team. Hopefully it’ll kick-start us again.
“We just need to score a couple of goals and we’ll be fine. We’ve created plenty of chances, probably more than we’ve ever done. I don’t think we’re far away at all but that first win will just settle everyone down.”
Cattermole – who says he took no notice of Wednesday’s transfer window coverage, finding out about Bendtner’s arrival by checking the list of moves on Thursday morning – argues Sunderland’s results have been deceptive.
“I can see why people are saying the pressure’s been building with it (the league defeat) being a derby, but anyone who’s looked at our games will see we’ve been creating chances and looked like we won’t concede,” he said.
“In the Newcastle, Swansea and Liverpool games we looked comfortable all the time, but conceded two from set plays.
“Maybe the break has come at a good time for us. We’ve got two home games now and they’re both tough but winnable.”
Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech has returned to full training after suffering knee ligament damage at Stoke on the opening weekend and could feature on Saturday.