Club Focus – Sunderland – Steve Bruce has high hopes for Sunderland

Man-of-the-moment Danny Welbeck scored a brace on Monday evening, but his goals were sandwiched between strikes from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta respectively to level the playing field come the final whistle. Welbeck’s goals mean the on-loan striker has now scored three goals from two games.

Manager Steve Bruce heaped praise on the youngster, saying in his post-match statement: “For me Danny Welbeck was head and shoulders above anyone else on the pitch in terms of his quality. He was terrific. One thing he’s got is natural ability. He’s quick, he’s good in the air, he has wonderful control and that’s why he’s Danny Welbeck from Manchester United. It would have been fantastic if he’d got the hat-trick at the end, but to be fair a draw was a fair result.”

Bruce told fans that clubs like the Toffees are sides Sunderland are capable of aspiring to these days, adding: “We’ve gone toe-to-toe with them and it could have gone either way. The last 30 seconds summed up the whole game, we could have won it, they could have won it. I’m pleased with the point. There was times we gave away the ball too cheaply and we got a bit edgy in the second half, but I couldn’t fault the players’ commitment and effort.

“We can take heart that we’ve now taken on last season’s top ten and are unbeaten against them all. We must be doing something right. We’ve lost three games in 18 months here and we’re making it difficult for teams to come here.”

Darren Bent’s return to action provided a welcome boost for Bruce, and the timing could not have been better with Asamoah Gyan pulling out due to injury. The record signing had suffered a thigh strain while on international duty with Ghana, but should be fit for Saturday’s trip to Wolves.

Titus Bramble, meanwhile, looks set to miss the festive programme after pulling up with a knee injury in training. The setback kept the former Wigan man absent from the Everton match, and means he could be absent until after the new year. Bruce said: “The problem with Titus’ cartilage means it looks like he’ll be out for about six weeks. That’s a big shame because he’s had a fantastic start to his Sunderland career.”

Either side could have won the match at the death, with both squandering good chances to bag the points. In the end many consider the point to be fair from a thoroughly entertaining encounter. The home draw means Sunderland are now seventh in the table, two points behind Tottenham and Bolton and with an identical goal difference to the former. The Black Cats will be hoping to improve on last season’s trip to Molineaux, where Wolves came away with a 2-1 win. With the Wearsider’s fine recent form, they must surely see this fixture as a winnable one with the midlanders languishing second from bottom, and a full five points from safety. Complacency must be guarded against, however, as Wolves will be looking to get some more points on the board in their efforts to stave off relegation.

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