Only two of these damn games left. Yeah, I know it's important preparation blah blah blah. I'm really sick of writing about friendlies. It's no fun when there are no narratives. Don't tell me you honestly would watch football if there wasn't any soap opera like drama constantly following half the players.
The 21 who are making the trip: Jones, Enrique, Toure, Alberto, Gerrard, Aspas, Coutinho, Assaidi, Henderson, Coates, Downing, Spearing, Lucas, Mignolet, Allen, Borini, Sterling, Kelly, Flanagan, Ibe, Wisdom
I won't waste any more of your time, here is what I'll be looking for:
-The defense has been beyond rock solid so far. In fact they haven't conceded one goal yet (yeah, blame me for jinxing them when it goes in).
-Look for Ibe. If he has another good game, I will be shocked and pissed if he doesn't start.
-Henderson had a fantastic cameo in the match in Thailand and followed it up with another in Stevie's testimonial. Perhaps he is maturing into the player every Sunderland fan thought he might become. I'm skeptical though because he has proven time and time again he is only great against marginal sides.
-To follow up on Ibe, his fellow breakthrough star (of last year) Raheem has also looked like it was merely a fluke and injury that caused his dip in form last year. While it may be too early to tell, history might be vindicating Rodgers for resting him so much the second half of last season (plus the thigh injury). He is like a new signing....again.
-I would expect Valarenga to be slightly better competition to what the Reds faced in Asia. This should be a better test against a side that is likely more organized which should give us a better idea about where we stand.
-Aspas looked excellent in Gerrard's testimonial, I'll be curious to see if he finally gelled and is getting comfortable with his role and the squad or if it was a one off thing.
-Suarez is not on the list, but Downing is. Read into that what you want.
-Don't forget, it is only preseason. Yeah, that's a pre-excuse.