Playing From The Back Is Killing Us
Since I don't usually write this feature, there are things that I sometimes miss and that's why I find Rory's tactical assessments really handy.
David Moyes has us playing out from the back intentionally, apparently. It threw me somewhat when reading Patrick Van Aanholt's interview with WhoScored.com last week, in which he mentioned that his manager prefers us to play out of defence - I can't say I've ever noticed us playing that way this season.
So, when I was at my seat for Saturday's game I made a conscious effort to look out for examples of us playing from the back, and to be quite honest it was horrifying to see, especially considering we were attempting to do so against one of the best ball-playing teams in the world with a far inferior set of footballers.
Time and time again we looked clueless and rudderless whilst attempting to play a possession-based type of football, gifting Arsenal the ball constantly. Tiki-Taka it wasn't.
According to WhoScored.com, we lost possession of the ball on TWENTY-FIVE occasions, the majority of which was around our own box. It's unforgivable, really.
After the game I heard Niall Quinn's comments about where he feels David Moyes is going wrong, and I have to agree that our manager isn't giving his players their best chance at achieving results and playing a system that suits them. Victor Anichebe played well midweek against Southampton - with that in mind, why not put him up top and knock it long when we are under pressure? It mighn't be pretty but we would have been able to get ourselves further forward and into more dangerous areas if we had a plan B in place on the pitch.
In fact, one of the only times we did play it forward and in behind their defence, it brought a positive result. Dider Ndong's ball into the space behind Shkodran Mustafi led to us winning and scoring a penalty. It's not rocket science - Duncan Watmore is far more effective through the middle, running at pace. He's wasted collecting five yard passes inside our own half of the field.
We Don't Shoot Enough
As simple and as stupid as it sounds, it's true - not having enough shots on goal is a byproduct of attempting to play a possession-based style of football, and it's reflecting in the amount we score.
I remember Sam Allardyce remarking that he preferred his side to shoot from range if it made sense to do so - that way, even if you miss there is a chance that a player like Jermain Defoe might be lurking around waiting for a loose ball, or you might even get a set piece. With players like Wahbi Khazri and Lamine Kone, getting corners and free kicks that you can take advantage of is hugely important.
Appallingly, we have scored just seven goals in ten games. Five of those have came from Jermain Defoe - two of which have been from the penalty spot.
Playing out from the back is stopping us from breaking at pace against teams, and this reflects in the amount of shots we are having per game.
On Saturday we had ONE SHOT from open play, when Billy Jones saw his effort blocked from around thirty yards out midway through the first half. Our other two shots came from free efforts - Patrick Van Aanholt's free kick which hit the side netting in the 20th minute, and then of course Jermain Defoe's scored penalty.
We had plenty of the ball in the Arsenal half of the pitch but we didn't test them from range when they sat deep, something which had me tearing out my hair at the game.
Until David Moyes starts setting up his side to test our opposition's goal more, we aren't going to win games. A drastic tactical overhaul is needed, otherwise we may as well count ourselves as relegated already.
Picked Apart With Ease
Arsenal's tactical plan was very straight forward on Saturday, and it's a wonder that we didn't actually concede more than we did.
With Alexis Sanchez playing alone up front, you'd expect that our defenders would be able to play up against him with ease. The problem, though, was that Sanchez occupied what is more commonly known as the 'false nine' role, something which confused our midfield players immensely as he weaved in between defence and attack.
With Sanchez dropping deep to receive the ball on occasion, it forced our holding players to push forward and leave gaps in behind them - space which was then occupied by their pacey wide-players.
It then should have been down to Sunderland to recognise this and find a way to nulify Sanchez's impact, but we didn't. As a result, Sanchez was given free rein to do what he wanted and he was hugely influential in front of goal, scoring twice.
Sanchez is a world class footballer - there's no doubting it - but the fact that nobody in a Sunderland shirt was given the job of tracking the Chilean as he marauded around the pitch doing what he wanted is worrying.