Sunderland fans have had little to cheer about this season. Earning two points from a possible thirty is not the best way to start a campaign. Unless you’re looking to emulate Aston Villa. David Moyes has looked even more miserable than usual. That’s not a surprise as Sunderland’s performances have made for depressing viewing. However, all is not lost! The Black Cats have reasons to be cautiously optimistic, starting with…
FIRST win of the Season
After 8 defeats and 2 draws, they secured their first 3 points. They beat an excellent side away from the Stadium of Light. In their four previous Premier League games at home, Bournemouth had drawn 0-0 against Spurs, hammered Hull 6-1, and beaten Everton and West Brom 1-0. The win was even more impressive considering they conceded first and played the last 30 minutes with 10 men. During that last half an hour, they scored the winner.
On top of all that, Moyes had to watch the game from the stands as he served a one match touchline ban. The three points provided much needed relief for the under-pressure Scot:
“I’d nearly forgotten what it felt like to smile. We’ve got to keep going. You’ve got to get two wins. It’s certainly getting closer”
D.A.W: Defoe, Anichebe and Watmore
Sunderland have scored only 9 Premier League goals this season – that’s the lowest amount in the league. Defoe has scored 66% of their goals. That’s a lot of pressure on one player. Defoe usually plays best when there is a ‘big man’ beside him. Anichebe scored his first of the season on his first start. Moyes was quick to point out that Anichebe was not brought in for his goals, but to compliment Defoe’s style:
“His goalscoring record was not really the thing I was bringing him for because I had Jermain Defoe. I’ve always felt he’s got more than what he shows and sometimes people don’t recognise that he’s actually a very good player.”
The link up play between the two will put teams on alert. Anichebe has only scored 25 goals in 184 Premier League games. However, the attention given to his strike partner might just free up space for the Nigerian international to get in on the goalscoring. Anichebe was quick to give praise to the man who brought him in from the footballing wilderness:
“Credit to the manager. He’s got a lot of pressure on him. He’s a really good manager, he just needs time. There were signs today of the things we used to do at Everton.”
Another forward option is the promising Duncan Watmore. The 22 year old has been primarily featuring as a winger this season, but his natural position is through the middle. He recently hit the headlines with this wonderful strike for the England U21’s. Moyes has been impressed with Watmore’s development and has high hopes for the youngster from Manchester. Although in typical Moyes fashion, he doesn’t get carried away:
“He’s got something. He needs to learn when to slow down and when to speed up a bit more. Technically, hopefully his development will improve. I thought Duncan, at times, was really positive against Bournemouth.”
Struggling teams in a congested league
Hull and Mike Phelan may both regret signing that contract. The Tigers stopped the rot with a surprising 2-1 win over Southampton. It’s still difficult to see them retaining their top flight status. They’ve conceeded more goals than any other side in the Premier League. They’re also unlikely to spend any significant money in January. Steve Bruce saw the writing on the wall and jumped ship when no funds were provided in the summer. Assem Allam is still trying to sell “Hull Tigers!” but has so far been unable to find a buyer.
Sunderland are 6 points from safety. Two wins at the bottom of the table can be difficult to come by. Yet the Black Cats are only 10 points from 8th place. It’s a wide-open league. Bob Bradley forgot to bring the ‘new manager bounce’ with him. Swansea managed to make Manchester United look excellent last time out which should set alarm bells ringing. The Welsh outfit are now an established Premier League side. They’re also well known for running a tight ship, so won’t try and buy their way out of trouble in January.
There are also relegation concerns for Middlesborough. Karanka has already stated that staying up this year is their only goal. Palace look shakier than an Alan Pardew shuffle. Cracks have been appearing all over the Olympic Stadium, while sides like Burnley and West Brom will always be looking over their shoulders. Sunderland can also take heart from Stoke’s revival. The Potters are now 12th after a disastrous start.
NINE LIVES – EXPERIENCE OF SURVIVAL
What would the Premier League do without the yearly fight for survival by Sunderland. Most of their players have been through this before. Their finishing positions for the last four seasons read 17th, 16th, 14th, 17th. They’re the masters of the great escape and their owner, Ellis Short, has developed a knack of appointing managers that keep them up. Unfortunately for Moyes, that’s typically their second or third manager of the season.
Sunderland’s next game is a huge 3 pointer against Hull City at the Stadium of Light. Moyes will be looking to use the game as a springboard for upcoming games. If the Black Cats can gain some momentum, then they may avoid the dubious honour of being last at Christmas. Although, Leicester were propping up the table in December 2014, so there’s still hope for the Black Cats.
What are your thoughts? Do you think Sunderland will survive? Vote below:
Images: SkySports (Defoe + Watmore)
Photo by Ronnie Macdonald
Photo by domfell