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Q&A with the Roker Report

It's the Cup!

Because it's a funny picture, that's why
Because it's a funny picture, that's why
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

In another of our series of Know An Opponent-type things, we sat down with The Roker Report to get their thoughts on Saturday's FA Cup matchup. I answered some questions for them too, which you can find here.

TSF: You alluded to this a bit in one of your questions, but do you feel that Allardyce will de-prioritize the Cup a bit, given Sunderland's league position?

RR: Definitely, 100%. Our priority lies with the league and we have a huge six-pointer against Swansea City midweek, so Sam would be mental not to field a weakened team. I love the FA Cup, but we can't understate just how important it is that we beat Swansea and reduce the gap between ourselves and them to one point.

We've got three away games in eight days and have to be clever about who plays on Saturday. If we play someone like Lee Cattermole, Yann M'Vila or Jermain Defoe and they get injured it could cost us valuable points in the league.

I wouldn't want to have his job of picking the side!

TSF: What has gotten Sunderland in such trouble in the league? Are the problems correctable?

RR: Simply put we made bad decisions in the summer that have left us with a weak squad and a managerial casualty. We didn't recruit enough quality in defence when we needed it and as a result we're still relying on Wes Brown and John O'Shea to plug the holes where we perhaps should have bought real quality players to set us up for the future.

The problems are correctable but only if we start producing the type of form that the teams in the top ten produce. We lose far too many games and concede far too many goals - turning losses into draws and signing some real quality defenders in this window might just be enough to get us over the line.

TSF: What is the most important thing Sunderland must improve in order to stay up?

RR: Like I said before, we have to fix our defence. In attack we are fairly well stocked but we struggle to keep clean sheets against even the poor sides.

TSF: Would you rather win the Cup or stay up? Or, to be more nuanced about it, does staying up automatically mean giving up on the Cup, or are both goals achievable?

RR: Let's be honest, Sunderland have no chance of winning the cup this year. That said, I'd love to see us win a trophy one day, after all its what all fans dream of. We almost did it in 2014 when we were beaten by Manchester City in the League Cup final and to have a taste of that again would be magnificent - just not now. We need to stay in the Premier League.

TSF: What is the fanbase's opinion of Sam Allardyce? Is he a solution to, a cause of, or a noncontributory factor in Sunderland's struggles this season?

RR: I don't think there are many out there who would say Sam Allardyce is the wrong man for the job. Even if we are relegated under his watch I'd hope we stick by him and allow him to build the club from the bottom again. Regardless of whether we are playing Premier League or Football League next season he is categorically the only man for the job.

Sam has made some questionable team selections since arriving here but the fact is that he's had to work with a squad of players that wasn't built by him. We won't see the best of Sam Allardyce for at least another eighteen months in my view - I just hope we give him the time to deliver it.

TSF: The Short Fuse is a US-based blog. The last time the Short Fuse and Roker Report spoke, in 2014, I asked what I called the Federally Mandated Jozy Altidore Question, about how Mr. Altidore was finding life at Sunderland. We all know how that turned out. This time, the Feds are mandating that I ask about DeAndre Yedlin. How has his growth and development been since his loan started? Do you see him featuring reguarly for Sunderland, and if so do you feel he has a future there or will he be headed back to London this summer?

RR: If I'm being honest I feel Yedlin has struggled since arriving here and I wouldn't be surprised to see him head back even earlier. Rumour has it we are in the market for another right back and should there be another Tottenham player that we have our eyes on it's entirely plausible that we could send him back to North London in order to loan another player.

I think that Yedlin would benefit more from playing regularly in the Championship than sitting on our bench - that would be his level right now.

TSF: Fill in the blank: if Arsenal want to beat Sunderland, they must (blank)

RR: ...expose the amount of space that our full backs leave in behind. Even very poor sides like League Two Exeter have managed to score goals against us by doing that this season. We cannot defend - expose our weaknesses down the flanks and it should be a comfortable win for Arsenal.

TSF: Who is Sunderland most concerned about defending on Saturday?

RR: I honestly don't know, because I know Wenger likes to mix it up when it comes to picking his team for the cup competitions. If Mezut Ozil starts I imagine he'll have a field day up against our fringe players.

TSF: and last, a score prediction?

RR: As much as it should pain me to say it, it doesn't - I think an Arsenal 4-0 rampage is upon us.

Thanks to @GHSAFC91 and The Roker Report for taking some time to talk with us!