Sunday’s late defeat to Spurs was an incredibly bitter pill to swallow, particularly after our best performance of the season in many people’s eyes. It was the classic sucker punch after dominating the game for the first 60 minutes, and further evidence as to the importance of taking your chances in front of goal when they come along. I’m sure we all suffered from that familiar sinking feeling when Jermaine Defoe’s effort came back off the post during the first half, and you just knew we could regret that later in the game which eventually proved to be the case.
A lack of goals has been a consistent problem over recent years, but on Sunday’s performance those front 3 of Defoe, Fabio Borini and Jeremaine Lens look like they will create plenty of attacking opportunities and problems for the opposition. It then becomes incredibly important that we convert some of those opportunities when they present themselves, to relax both the players and fans as well as taking some of the pressure away from this season’s shaky defence. Sunday’s performance is the first time in a long time as a Sunderland supporter, I’ve been really excited and impressed with the threat we offered in the final third (particularly in the first half). You arguably have to go back to the days of Darren Bent, Danny Welbeck and Asamoah Gyan where we offered a similar kind of intensity, pace and dynamism which made us very enjoyable to watch.
Jermaine Defoe answered critics who suggested he couldn’t fulfil the lone striker role effectively (me being one of them), with an excellent performance which gives Dick Advocaat food for thought over the coming weeks. The inclusion of Ola Toivonen alongside that front 3, also looks to have given us much more balance and prevents Defoe from becoming isolated as the lone front man.
Speaking of positives – Yann M’Vila looks an absolute class above any other central midfielder to wear the red and white stripes for many a year. I was a huge admirer of Ki Sung-Yueng during his loan spell, but I honestly believe M’Vila is an upgrade further. Younes Kaboul has also been excellent in his last two performances, and looks much more like the player we thought we’d signed from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer.
It’s important we take these positives into this weekend’s trip to Bournemouth, in the kind of game Sunderland have notoriously struggled in over recent seasons. The longer we go without that first win and the more anxieties grow, so it’s vital we build on the previous positive performances and see a tangible return in our points tally over the coming weeks. A clinical edge at the top end of the pitch and full concentration in defensive situations, are what’s needed to ensure this Sunderland side turn potential into points.