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Sunderland’s August-September Progress Report

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Sunderland have enjoyed a mixed start to the Premier League season thus far with Gus Poyet’s men sitting in a worrying 15th position in the table despite having earned draws against Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United as well as Tottenham Hotspur in recent weeks.

Unfortunately these two excellent results have had their respective gloss taken off them due to the fact Sunderland are still without a win this season. Despite Poyet’s promises of more flamboyant football this term, there is still yet to be a return on this promise. Although the hugely exciting signing of Ricky Alvarez on-loan from Inter Milan will undoubtedly aid this cause as the season progresses.

The strengths of the team are similar to what they were last term, the goalkeeper and the midfield. Vito Mannone, after a mixed career with Arsenal, has found his place at the Stadium of Light with the Italian continually putting in impressive performances which are at times keeping Sunderland in matches.

In midfield there is still the combative presence of Lee Cattermole, whilst the additions of Jack Rodwell and Will Buckley have added the creativity needed to thrive in the Premier League.

The weakness of the squad still lies with forwards. Steven Fletcher has had considerable injuries throughout his time on Wearside but looks unlikely to reach his previous high levels of performance. Jozy Altidore remains frustratingly inconsistent with Connor Wickham the only real source of goals in the team despite being just 21. Poyet’s failure to go into the market for a more reliable forward may be a decision which comes back to haunt the Uruguayan coach.

With regards to the transfer window, it was in actual fact a positive summer for Sunderland. A lot of the older members of the squad who were on significant wages were moved on whilst there were a number of exciting additions.

Patrick van Aanholt looks to be an improvement at left-back with the former Chelsea youngster taking his chance at regular first-team football with both hands so far. Jack Rodwell has added composure to the heart of midfield alongside Liam Bridcutt whilst Sebastian Coates could be a good backup option to the pairing of Wes Brown and John O’Shea.

As previously mentioned the lack of activity in the forward market is a worry with goals hard to come by for Sunderland already this year.

The standout player for Sunderland this year has actually been another of Poyet’s signings, Will Buckley. Purchased from Poyet’s old club Brighton Albion Hove, the English winger has added an incisiveness to Sunderland’s wing play and was a real handful in the 1-1 draw with Manchester United in late August.

There aren’t many injury concerns for Sunderland at the moment, however, given Fletcher’s recent history as well as Altidore’s profligacy in front of, there is considerable worries about a weak attack.

Best Starting XI: 4-1-4-1

GK- Mannone

RB-Vergini

CB- O’Shea

CB- Brown

LB- Van Aanholt

DM- Cattermole

CM- Rodwell

CM- Larsson

RM- Alvarez

LM- Buckley

ST- Wickham

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. norwalkvirus

    September 22, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    I’m going to go ahead and say that the strength is not the midfield and the problem is not so directly on the strikers.

    The problem with the team is with speed of thought. If you look at their passing, which is much improved over the last few coaches, it still lacks an important fluidity. Rarely will you see a Sunderland player receive a pass in stride. The ball isn’t moving fluidly and everyone on the team seems to need an extra moment on the ball in the attacking third. That is a moment that is not really available. Furthering this is the fact that they do not have a good instinct as to where their teammates are/will be, so they want time to figure that out.

    A related problem is the off-the-ball movement. While they maintain solid structure, Sunderland players are loathe to consistently make diagonal runs or otherwise move to open up defenses.

    The team is talented, but frustrated. There are a number of weaknesses, expected of a team in their position. However, the team mentality needs to incorporate more movement of individuals, as well as the ball, and improve the speed of their decision making.

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