Jermain Defoe (left) and Lynden Gooch (right) celebrate following 2-1 win at Bournemouth on Saturday
It had been a long time coming for Sunderland football club, but after 10 games without a win in the league, the Black Cats finally picked up their first 3 points of the season. It was hardly a vintage display and they certainly rode their luck at times, but they finally have a win to their name. They still remain the bottom of the league and 6 points off safety, but its a starting pointing for Moyes and his team and the question is can they now push on ?
The experts would say no. Sunderland are still in a heap of trouble and although the 3 points at Bournemouth has provided some light relief, they still have a long way to go if they are to beat the drop like they have done over previous years. Yet, during their win over Bournemouth, there were signs that Black Cats haven’t given up just yet. Following their 4-1 defeat to Arsenal the previous week, there were questions over whether the players were actually playing for the manager. There looked a lack of desire and hunger to win the ball back against the Gunners and many looked disinterested. When the players stop putting the work in week and week out then that’s the time to worry and due to the fact that the team is lacking quality in key areas, if they don’t try then there isn’t much chance of them getting anything out of games. However, last week against Bournemouth, you couldn’t pick a single individual out and say that they didn’t give their all on that pitch. Every single one got stuck in and put their bodies on the line in a desperate attempt to preserve their narrow lead in the final few minutes of the match. This was typified by the performance of Duncan Watmore on the wing who simply didn’t stop running making 84 sprints in total throughout the match.
Whilst every player did give their all on Saturday, many will say that Bournemouth were unlucky to lose. They created numerous chances but seemed un-able to find the necessary goals. The reason for this was poor finishing at times but they weren’t helped by the inspired form of Jordan Pickford in-goal. This kid has been a revelation in between the sticks for Sunderland this season and without him they would have been on the end of far worse results than they have been which seems hard to believe considering their position in the league. Without any clean sheets this season, you would think that his impact has been minimal but with 41 saves in the league this season, behind only Tom Heaton (62), he has been pivotal in giving his team a chance in every game. His performances in goal have certainly not been met with the results they deserve but against Bournemouth he was the difference. Some of the saves he made, especially against Josh King late on, were world-class and without him Sunderland wouldn’t have come away with anything.
We all know that in Jermain Defoe Sunderland have a man who can get them the goals they need to stay in the division but he needs the ball to do it. At times this season he has looked low on confidence and he certainly hasn’t helped by the lack of support from his team mates. However, against Bournemouth on the weekend he had the support he has been crying out for in the form of Victor Anichebe. The Nigerian put in a dominant display over the weekend and played key roles in both Sunderland goals. Anichebe has struggled to make an impact wherever he’s been but the one thing you get with him is someone who knows how to hold the ball up. The man is a beast, a unit, attempting to take the ball off him is like trying to take candy from a baby, it simply won’t happen. While his game to goal ratio isn’t nearly has good as Defoe, he does act as outlet for his team and that perhaps is the one criticism you would have of Defoe. Taking this in to account you would say that the two are the perfect partnership up front and this was proved correct against Bournemouth where the two both got on the scoresheet. Of course it’s only one game but with the two in the team, Sunderland carry a threat and when you carry a threat going forward, you always stand a chance.
Anichebe (left) celebrates scoring Sunderland’s equaliser with Defoe (right)
Whether or not Sunderland can build on their 3 points over the weekend remains to be seen but they will go into their home fixture with Hull after the international break with renewed confidence and the belief that they can pick up their first home win of the season. It would be naïve too say that Sunderland can now go on a terrific run but then it would be the same to write them off after only 10 games. They are, after all ,the masters of survival.