How to help Sunderland’s worst start yet
Diagnosing what ails a team with just two points in October isn’t a challenge, because pretty much everything’s wrong.
The Black Cats of Sunderland have perennially started slow, but this year is the worst yet as they’ve joined 1994-95 Manchester City as the only teams to snare just two points through 10.
Sunderland boss David Moyes is feeling the heat on behalf of his last place Premier League side. He admits that he has not been the life of the party, bringing work home with him.
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“It does make me feel lousy, and I do,” Moyes said. “I don’t feel good about it but you’ve got to take it. I probably spend Saturday night, and quite often, in a darkened room somewhere.”
Moyes said he’s fine by Monday, and star striker Jermain Defoe admits they can’t ignore the table.
“It’s reality. We need to stand up, stick together, and remain positive,” Defoe said.
In the meantime, let’s talk tactics and timeline for those concerned with another Sunderland “great escape”. After all, this isn’t new:
9 - Sunderland are the first team to fail to win any of their opening nine games of a PL season on two different occasions. Sluggish.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 22, 2016
Mark up and claim the ball: Sunderland has allowed eight headed goals so far this season, and that’s three more than any other Premier League club.
While that may lead you to believe the Black Cats aren’t rising up to meet the ball, that’s isn’t quite the case. Sunderland is mid-table in winning aerial 50/50s, so this is more about being organized at the back than desire to win the ball.
And this is also about getting a bit more savvy from young ‘keeper Jordan Pickford (at least until Vito Mannone returns from his elbow injury).
Get the ball and unleash Van Aanholt: Left backs don’t grow on trees, but time and itme again we’ve seen that Patrick van Aanholt is an offensive threat on a team that has precious few.
Now given the lack of depth for the Black Cats defense, that could mean trying something wild like a 3-5-2. Using Lamine Kone, John O’Shea, and Papi Djilobodji at center back with Van Aanholt as left wingback and Javi Manquillo at right wingback would be interesting.
The problem is what to do with the midfield in that case. Maybe something like this (substituting Jan Kirchhoff for Jack Rodwell once healthy)?
Kone -- O’Shea --Djilobodji
Manquillo -- Rodwell -- N’Dong -- Van Aanholt
Watmore -- Defoe
Get to January (and buy): It’s traditionally been hard to get players to join a relegation-threatened club in January, but so many sides were able to snare new talent last season despite their PL status.
Frankly, David Moyes doesn’t have the talent to consistently snag points in the Premier League (Though he definitely has the players to get more than 2 through 10 matches!).
January 1 is the first day to add players, and Sunderland can find some points despite their depleted roster. Of their nine games, only three opponents are in the Top Eight.
Saturday -- at Bournemouth
Nov. 19 -- vs. Hull City
Nov. 26 -- at Liverpool
Dec. 3 -- vs. Leicester City
Dec. 10 -- at Swanswa
Dec. 14 -- vs. Chelsea
Dec. 17 -- vs. Watford
Dec. 26 -- at Manchester United
Dec. 31 -- at Burnley