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End Of Season Stats: Sunderland Most Fouled Team; Vito Busy

Just why were Sunderland fouled more than any other team last season?

Shaun Botterill

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Football statistics are not really everyone's cup of tea but, for those who enjoy this sort of stuff, there are some revealing Sunderland-related stuff worth noting in the end-of-season figures.

By the numbers, which were published by NBC Sports, Sunderland were the most fouled team in the whole Premier League last season. Yes, that surprised me too.

I'd have probably expected Liverpool, Manchester City or Arsenal really considering their comfort on the ball and greater attacking freedom. I certainly haven't been watching Sunderland all season and noticing the amount of fouls that were being drawn.

The most fun about statistics though are not the numbers themselves, but the analysis that they provoke. The question of who was the most fouled team is nowhere near as absorbing as why were they the most fouled team.

1 - Sunderland: 454
2 - Chelsea: 450
3- Manchester United: 448

Everyone will have their own opinion on it, but for me I think it boils down to a question of pace. Well, more specifically, a lack of it.

Sunderland have some pretty skilful players on the ball. Adam Johnson, for example, with his dropped shoulder and quick feet is a nice player to watch. You fancy him to beat a man. Emanuele Giaccherini is the same really. Then you have the likes of Steven Fletcher, Marcos Alonso, Jack Colback and Fabio Borini (the most fouled Sunderland player) who have a very composed and controlled first touch when receiving the ball that can wrong foot an opposition player.

What none of these players have, however, is the pace to run away from a defender once they have been momentarily denied their balance. They are given the chance to have another nibble at the ball, usually from behind, and they tend to be fouls in the modern game.

The other most notable statistic from a Sunderland point of view is that one Cardiff City's David Marshall made more saves than Vito Mannone last term.

1 - David Marshall (Cardiff City): 149
2 - Vito Mannone (Sunderland): 130
3: John Ruddy (Norwich City): 124

The fact that Mannone is sandwiched between two goalkeepers from relegated club and he only actually played 29 games just highlights how important his contribution was to the Sunderland cause.