Last Saturday we had a frustrating goalless draw at West Ham, despite being the better team, controlling the game and deserving the win, but we followed that up with a huge victory against Chelsea in midweek and in doing so qualified for the Capital One Cup semi-finals, as well as gaining much needed momentum and confidence to take into today's home game with Norwich.
Unfortunately, déjà vu struck against the Canaries, where we worked hard, passed it around well at times, looked the better team for most of the game but struggled to create clear opportunities, failed to get our strikers into the game and topped it off with a stoppage time red card for Wes Brown.
Norwich started brightly, with Sunderland struggling to get a foothold in the game, the visitors came close when Nathan Redmond cut inside and forced Vito Mannone into a smart save but that was the all they had to show for their good start.
The home side did come into the game as the first half wore on, with Cattermole, Ki and Larsson starting to get a grip on midfield but they had very few chances to show for their growing possession. Long range efforts from Ki Sung-Yueng, Lee Cattermole and Seb Larsson failed to find the target and when John Ruddy was finally tested, it came from another long range shot from Phil Bardsley that the England international easily claimed down low.
Jozy Altidore squandered a good opportunity to take the lead when he took too long to get a shot off at the edge of the area when set up by Brown and his eventual shot was deflected wide for a corner. Gary Hooper then forced a save from Mannone five minutes from the break, when he was quick to get a shot off from outside the box after a defensive slip and Norwich had another good chance when Leroy Fer arrived late on the edge of the box but he could only side foot straight at Mannone.
Gus Poyet's men needed to improve after the break and they came out with an upped tempo but still struggled to create anything of note.
Larsson had a free-kick deflected out for a corner, Brown then nodded a set-piece into the path of Ondrej Celustka who dawdled on the ball and allowed Johan Elmander to bundle the ball out of play and Fabio Borini latched onto a botched attempt at a clearance but couldn't get enough power on his shot and Ruddy stopped it comfortably.
Just before Steven Fletcher came on for the ineffectual Altidore, Hooper had a great chance for Norwich at the far post but his header from a Robert Snodgrass went wide, when he really should have scored.
With the introduction of Fletcher and Adam Johnson, the game started to become stretched and that almost led to the opening goal for the home side. First, Brown headed a sliced Michael Turner clearance onto the outside of the post and soon afterwards Borini's work-rate and pace saw him chase down a loose ball, a desperate Ruddy was beaten to the ball and when the Italian found Ki 25 yards out, with the goal gaping, the Korean took a touch but could only loft the ball onto the roof of the net.
That was as good as it got for Sunderland, Norwich had a couple of half chances through Fer and Ricky Van Wolfswinkel but neither side really looked like breaking the deadlock and to top off an extremely frustrating afternoon, Brown made a reckless tackle on the sideline and although there probably wasn't any malicious intent, his frustration clearly got the better of him and unfortunately this red card is very unlikely to be rescinded.
There was some slight consolation with the results elsewhere, as Fulham, Crystal Palace and West Ham all lost, which means we are one point closer to safety but a point at home is not good enough if we want to get out of trouble. So despite the good work done by Poyet so far, he still has an awful lot of work to do to turn around our fortunes and he will have to do it without Wes Brown, for the next three games at least.
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