Although we got lucky with Defoe’s first and second goals (as both I think were offside) and with the sending off of Kyle Naughton, we still had to do a job and win the game against Swansea, and we did. Can people PLEASE stop going on about how lucky we were?
Truth be told, Sunderland still deserved to win the game. Before Swansea’s penalty, we were all over them and had two excellent opportunities to double our early lead. The first occasion Adam Johnson somehow contrived to miss the target from the six-yard area before Patrick Van Aanholt failed to spot Fabio Borini in the centre. He was screaming for the ball and had PVA’s pass found him properly, I have no doubt that he would have scored. It happens.
The penalty that Graham Scott decided to give was a joke. If anything, Andre Ayew backs into Wes Brown, kicks the floor and falls over in the attempt.
While we’re on the subject of penalties against Swansea, remember in the reverse fixture at the Stadium of Light when we had a claim for a spot kick after Ashley Williams’ handball from a shot by Jack Rodwell? These things come around.
To be fair to Swansea the sending off was shocking – to say the referee had a nightmare would be an understatement.
I’m prepared to give Graham Scott the benefit of the doubt considering it was only his fourth Barclays Premier League match, but it’s fair to say that he might have to wait a while for his next chance at officiating a top flight game.
I can laugh about it now, because we won, but at the time I was livid with the way Sunderland somehow managed to concede a goal from an attacking set-piece immediately after Naughton’s dismissal. Ayew’s finish was a good one but from our point of view the goal shouldn’t have happened.
I can’t speak for everyone, but my thoughts at half-time were of annoyance and disbelief at the first-half I’d just watched. At that stage, I would have taken a draw, even with Swansea down to ten men.
I had a feeling before the game that it might benefit Sunderland being the away team and the second-half proved me right. The timing of PVA’s equaliser, right at the start of the second-half, killed Swansea’s mood. Had they held on for 15-20 minutes at 2-1, I doubt we’d have taken the three points, personally.
But, after we scored, they were there for the taking. You could tell even on TV that the Liberty Stadium was full of nerves and we actually managed to take advantage of that for once.
Even though I thought he was offside, Defoe’s run and the ball played through to him were good. The finish wasn’t half bad either.
After the relief of Rangel’s ‘goal’ being ruled out for offside, we made life a little bit easier towards the end with Van Aanholt assisting Defoe for his first Premier League hat-trick as a Sunderland player.
While I have slated him earlier in the season Van Aanholt actually played quite well and although he looked better than usual defensively, going forward he was electric. He got the goal that effectively won us the game and looked our biggest threat going forward, despite playing at left back.
For the first time since Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan were Sunderland players we now have a forward capable of reaching double figures with league goals. That said, we can’t overly rely on him - Fabio Borini, Steven Fletcher and Dame N’Doye need to contribute more regularly if we are to survive again.
Defensively we looked good and bad at the same time. We looked comfortable for the majority of the game but we still conceded two goals, although one of them was from the penalty spot. It’s definitely something we still need to work on.
Considering where we were between the Liverpool and Villa games, I think we’ve exceeded expectations. The fact the gap between ourselves and safety has been reduced to a point shows just how important the last two results have been in terms of aiming for safety.
For me, the Tottenham game is similar to the Arsenal cup fixture, as it’s another ‘free’ pass - we’re not really expecting anything at the weekend.
If we can beat Bournemouth in just over a week, we’ve got as good a chance as anyone of staying up. Nothing is guaranteed yet, but let’s hope that our season is starting to turn for the better.
Ha’way the Lads!