Yann M'Vila - He's Rather Good
Won't someone buy us Yann M'Vila for Christmas, please?
In his last match for Rubin Kazan the Frenchman, who was a hit on loan last season at Sunderland, produced a master class.
Up against Lokomotiv Moscow, M'Vila didn't commit a single foul, made 2 key tackles and whipped the ball off his opponent 8 times; he made 3 accurate long passes and participated in nearly half of Kazan's 96 forward moves - 45 of them - switching defence into attack with consummate ease.
And how about this for a summation of his class, from the sports section of Russian newspaper, Business Gazette:
The simplicity of his action is his forte - he goes to tackle only when it is appropriate, but not when there is a risk of going to ground only to watch his opponent beat him and attack; M'Vila in most cases will not roll the ball back to a fellow defender or goalkeeper when there is a teammate who can be reached further up the field.
Now David Moyes, can you put Yann on your list for Santa - and tell him you've been really really good this year. We need a hashtag - #YannIsForLife
PVA Aims For Points
In an interview with safc.com Patrick van Aanholt has hailed the boost of winning back-to-back games which has lifted Sunderland off the foot of the Premier League and said Sunderland can go to Anfield on Saturday with confidence:
We can be very positive when we go there because we're winning games and scoring goals.
And the Dutch defender knows two wins is just the start of a long road to recovery in this season's relegation battle, and that gathering as many points as possible is now crucial:
We will go there with the same mentality we take everywhere and that is to win the game. If we can't and that's not possible we will try not to lose and make sure we get a point.
Van Aanholt believes the form of Victor Anichebe and Jermain Defoe means facing Liverpool holds no fear for David Moyes' team:
Victor is helping the team a lot and we have two incredibly strong boys up front which helps the team push forward.
Sunderland have never beaten Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League and last season managed a two goal-apiece draw after 10,000 home fans left their seats in protest at ticket prices.
Are Players Pushed Too Hard?
Just a thought. There have been a couple more instances in this injury-ravaged season to ponder the question which has been posed before.
Paddy McNair's campaign-ending injury on Saturday occurred after he originally went down in the 42nd minute. But the Northern Irishman played on until two minutes from time before finally being withdrawn with a ruptured cruciate ligament.
Even McNair's teammate who was lined up alongside him in midfield, Jason Denayer, has expressed his disbelief that the 21-year-old played on for so long:
Denayer told Sky Sports:
It was very strange when I heard it was going to be so long because he kept playing. I was asking myself how can you be injured so long if you play a second half?
Certainly there is a school of thought that cruciate ligament injuries are a consequence of simply playing too much football.
Perhaps McNair has not been overburdened in first team competitive action, but he did play three games in fourteen days - two in the Premier League and one on international duty for Northern Ireland.
No more than plenty of others in the Sunderland squad of course, but David Moyes' lack of midfield options has meant using players he might not ordinarily select for the starting-eleven and have some been over-worked and over-trained?
McNair's devastating injury comes just days after Jan Kirchhoff revealed he believed he had rushed back from his last injury. In an interview with the club's official website, he had this to say about his return to full training last week:
It was a hard first week back for me. We had double sessions Monday and Tuesday, trained fully at the weekend and had a full 90 minutes.
Kirchhoff, a player plagued by injuries throughout his career, played five games in three weeks the last time he returned from a spell out; and he had this to say about his rush back to the first team in September:
I think when I played the games, a full 90 minutes, maybe it was a bit too early after my long injury.
Certainly Sunderland have been ravaged by injuries and lay-offs this season. Is there anything in it, or is it merely bad luck?