Sunderland take on Portsmouth this weekend in the final of the Checkatrade Trophy.
The match should be a fantastic occasion between two sides that deserve a chance at silverware after rough campaigns.
Here, then, we spoke to We Are Wearside to preview the Wembley showpiece…
1. How excited are the fans right now?
Extremely, as you can imagine.
A trip to Wembley is a trip to Wembley, we know the EFL Trophy isn’t a major domestic cup honour but nevertheless, the occasion feels like it means a lot more. After the last few seasons plummeting through the divisions it’s a fixture which cornerstones the club’s history, in my opinion, or at least we all hope it does as we try to emulate clubs like Wolves and climb back into the top flight.
It’s going to be class and I can’t wait!
Aside from that, if we were to go on and win the final, and achieve automatic promotion – perhaps we should be investigated for match-fixing as it’s getting far too convenient for the 2nd Netflix series!
2. Aiden McGeady is nominated for League One POTY – would he deserve to win it?
I think it depends on what happens between now and the end of the season. Luton have been the standout team and if they go on to win it, it would be James Collins who should get it. McGeady does look a cut above this league – which you would expect given his pedigree, and he has shown that on a few occasions coming up with some crucial goals.
One thing I would say, however, is that if you put it to the Sunderland fans I’m not sure McGeady would be voted our player of the season, I would expect goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin to win that (perhaps a poll for us to run at some point!)
3. George Honeyman has spoken of the pride he’ll feel as skipper at the weekend – how crucial will he and his fellow midfielders be in this one?
Honeyman is important to our midfield because he injects a lot of energy and links things up nicely, but I think the presence of Lee Cattermole and Grant Leadbitter will be huge. Cattermole has already played at Wembley for us, in the Capital One Cup final loss against Man City, and Leadbitter has been a revelation since signing, anchoring the play.
I wonder if how sturdy our defence shapes up will be key, sometimes it looks like we can’t concede and sometimes we look like we’ll concede every time the opposition comes forward. With Portsmouth’s prowess in front of goal, perhaps this is what will decide the eventual winner.
4. Portsmouth have got plenty of threats – how do you stop them?
They put three past us just before Christmas and are one of just two teams to beat us, so their threat is very serious.
We made things very difficult for ourselves that day, Glen Loovens gave away a penalty and was sent off when it was still 0-0, so hopefully we keep 11 on the pitch which would be an improvement already.
I think in a cup final it’s more about trying to play to your own strengths, especially in an even contest like this. If we set up properly, play to the level we know we are capable of then it might not matter what Portsmouth do.
5. Score prediction
We have a terrible record at Wembley, we’ve lost there three times in my lifetime, including the 4-4 draw with Charlton (21 years ago now!), losing on penalties.
History suggests I should approach this question with caution, but surely there isn’t a fan on either side that expects their team to lose. I don’t think it’ll be settled in normal time, perhaps a cheeky extra-time winner in a 2-1 victory for Sunderland.