Our big night out at Arsenal reminds us of what we’ve lost – this kind of game should be the norm for Sunderland

Matt Keeling discusses how tonight's game is a big occasion for Sunderland, a far cry from the days where it used to be a regular occurrence

I’m sat here now, on a break at work, as half the lads from the local descend on the capital to watch Sunderland (inevitably lose) against Arsenal.

And I’m not going to lie to you – I am insanely jealous.

I know for a fact, a guy I used to know from the podcast who’s name I have forgotten is going to be chinning pints in the Marquis of Cornwallis from about 1pm this afternoon. Basically, as you’re reading this. All the lads, having a lovely time.

It feels like an occasion, and it is, in the sense that it’s a quarter-final of the League Cup, but part of me feels like playing Arsenal shouldn’t really be an occasion and it actually makes me a little bit sad.

We had years of going to the Emirates, arguably grew tired of it, and playing them tonight feels like a damning indictment of where we are as a football club. I know football works in cycles but I don’t want us to become that club, where we are having big days out. We’ve seen everyone do it to us the last few years, and we hate them.

I feel like I’m being downbeat here on the day of a cup quarter-final, and I’m not, I promise. I just want days like this to become the norm again, I want to feel like going to the same Premier League grounds every season is boring, and a bit of chore.

Basically, I’m sick of playing Gillingham. So as Callum Doyle nods us into the semi-final later on tonight, enjoy the occasion, and just hope that these days will be coming along a lot more often in the future.