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Quick Kicks: Mannone A Keeper; Superb Saints

After a little pause for breath, it's time for a few thoughts from Sunderland's battling 2-2 draw with Southampton.

Chris Brunskill

Achiles Heel Returned

I am sure it hasn't escaped anyone's notice that Sunderland's dismal record of defending set pieces from earlier in the season is back with a vengeance. It improved for a while under Poyet, but the Sunderland goal has been breached now from a corner in each of the last three games.

Set pieces are a massive part of the game and, contrary to perception, pretty difficult to defend given all the shenanigans that go on in the box these days. So you can understand and forgive the occasional one going in against you.

But three games in a row? It may be a case that due to the amount of games of late, the players haven't been able to train enough in this area. It's still not really good enough though, is it?

Slow Start? More Like Blind Panic

I've seen loads of people say how slow Sunderland's start was but I am not sure I agree. For some reason, it was blind panic.

Southampton immediately monopolised the ball and in an increasing show of desperation, Sunderland completely lost their shape as they ran around trying to recover it.

Southampton's first goal came as a result of there being too much space in front of the centre backs because Lee Cattermole had gone chasing the ball rather than protecting it.

It looked absolutely awful - and it was - but it wasn't slow. It was undisciplined.

Vito's A Keeper For Me

Adam Johnson's continuing fine form was once again the headline performance of the day, but you need to give a special mention to Vito Mannone too.

Like everyone else, the Italian had a shaky start but then preceded to keep his side in the game long enough to allow them the opportunity to get something. It was an invaluable performance.

Mannone's position has come under a little question this month with Poyet openly looking for a goalkeeper to add to the squad and insisting that any new additions will be coming to play rather than 'in case they might come in useful'. For me, though, he's a keeper. Keep him, play him, and appreciate him.

Superb Saints

Yes, we are principally concerned with Sunderland here, but good lord Southampton were superb. The way they pressed the ball in particular was outstanding.

Frustrating not to win games, especially home ones, but sometimes you have to credit the qualities of the opposition as well as lamenting your own side's shortcomings.

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