Peterborough United have been giant killers in the FA Cup in the past and must have fancied their chances when they were paired up with struggling Premiership outfit Sunderland for a third round tie.
Sunderland were in disarray at the time of the draw but have since employed Martin O`Neil as manager and his magic is already starting to take effect following two wins in a row over title chasing Manchester City before thumping woeful Wigan 4-1.
O`Neil has the same personnel as before, but he has made them feel invincible!
“The players don’t feel that they can be beaten at the moment. I think they are enjoying winning football matches,’ he said.
‘I’m delighted with the spirit of the team. They feed off each other and it was a magnificent performance.
‘I thought it was our best win since I’ve been here for every reason under the sun,’ he continued.
‘The players were out on their feet against Man City a couple of days ago – and had a day less to prepare – but they summoned energy and courage that was fantastic.
‘There were one or two games, before I came, when Sunderland didn’t have luck. We’ve had a wee bit of fortune. It’s a terrific run for us and has given us a bit of breathing space.’
One player Posh fans will be interested to see how he fares is forward James McLean who Posh tried to buy. He started the game against Wigan and played very well.
‘It was a wonderful performance by McClean” said O`Neil.
Posh themselves are on an unbeaten run of five games. They have also stopped the steady flow of goals conceded but at the detriment of goals scored! Instead of the 3-2`s and 4-3`s we`ve come to expect, we`re now experiencing 1-0`s and 1-1`s!
The Posh backline have been outstanding from goalkeeper Joe Lewis, who took some criticism from a section of fans when he came back into the side but his performances have more than justified his selection, to the central pairing of the coolness of Ryan Bennett and determination of Gaby Zakuani. The fullbacks should also get praised as Craig Alcock joined Posh during the summer and has been a revelation and must now be one of the first names down on Fergie`s team sheet each week. Tommy Rowe, Tom Kennedy and Mark Little have all pitched in at left and right back and all put good shifts in.
Posh have been down to the bare bones in recent weeks which has seen the introduction of some youth players to the substitutes bench. However, Mark Little and Lee Tomlin are expected to be fit enough to take their places on the bench at the weekend.
Little had a hernia operation only three weeks ago and made a surprise appearance amongst the substitutes on Monday when Posh entertained Birmingham City.
Little talking to www.theposh.com said: “I feel great, I am back than sooner than I expected. The surgeon initially said between four to six weeks, but it has been just over three so I am obviously delighted to be available for selection.
“It was great to get on against Birmingham and I felt okay. I didn’t have to do too many overlapping runs, so that probably helped!
“I am really looking forward to the Sunderland game and if I get a chance to be involved then I will do my best to stay in the team because competition for places is fierce. Craig Alcock has performed very well, I have watched him closely while I have been out and he has put in some unbelievable displays at right back and left-back.
“Sunderland are a big club and have some top players. The back four they could field is full of ex-Manchester United players and I am sure if they were still at Old Trafford, a few of them may be playing now! The squad are in confident mood at the minute and everybody is excited about Sunday.”
Posh boss Darren Ferguson told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire: “It’s a good draw. A Premier League side at home should attract a big crowd and it’s on the television as well.
“Anyone who is not enjoying how we are playing and who are disappointed when we lose should just think back to where we were five years ago.”
Director of football Barry Fry added: “I am delighted for the chairman [Darragh MacAnthony]. He deserves a big game and it should be a sell-out.”
A full match preview will be up on site on Saturday.
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