What The Gaffer Said
With the game seemingly lost at the eightieth minute mark there can be no doubts that Sam Allardyce will have been over the moon with leaving Anfield with a point on Saturday.
When you’re two-nil down at Anfield you think your day’s all over, but today we fought back from being two goals down with two quality goals of our own.
We earned ourselves a point by not giving up and never saying die. It looked like the fear left us and we seemed to play a lot better after falling behind.
I was disappointed when we fell to one-nil because I thought we didn’t deserve it, [Patrick] van Aanholt had an unbelievable chance to pull us back just after, but he didn’t manage to score and then we were at fault for their second goal.
I thought we had defended well up until that point and we had created a number of chances.
We had to make some changes today because of illness and injuries and then Duncan [Watmore] got injured early doors too, which forced us into another change.
[Adam] Johnson came on and he got forward a little more than what [Yann] M’Vila, [Jan] Kirchhoff and [Lee] Cattermole had been doing and it made a difference.
We never said die; we showed character and worked on opening up Liverpool a little bit more and it paid off with a quality free kick and then [Jermain] Defoe took his chance and wow, what a goal!
It’s the quality of those goals that got us our point.
It’s not often you can come back from being two goals behind to get a point and it’s a very precious point for us today!
Although Sunderland were dreadfully poor for the majority of the game we showed immense drive and courage to come back away against a team that really should not be throwing away a two goal lead against us. Encouraging.
Survival Hinges On Playing To Our Strengths
I heard Sam on BBC Newcastle after the game exclaiming that we weren't playing incredibly deep on purpose but I'm not sure I buy that. We were always going to be on the short end posession-wise but at half time we'd only seen 18% of the ball, a stat incredibly staggering when you consider how well we played against Manchester City.
One thing that we've shown throughout the season is that this team cannot sit back and defend for ninety minutes, and in trying to do so we conceded two very sloppy goals.
That last ten minutes showed to me exactly why we should not be defending for large chunks of the game, playing the long ball as opposed to attempting to dicate play. Our strengths are in our set pieces and in our centre forward, and if we make the most of both we'll score plenty of goals between now and the end of the season.
With Manchester United coming to the Stadium of Light this coming Saturday we have to ensure we don't sit back and let them come at us, because ultimately we will concede a goal eventually.
Billy Jones Has To Be Dropped
As hard as Billy Jones works he just doesn't cut it at this level, and with the mistakes now starting to add up it's essential that we take him out of the firing line and give an opportunity to one of the other right backs we have.
DeAndre Yedlin has done nothing for me to suggest he's good enough at this level but he has to be given a chance to establish his place in the team. He's barely kicked a ball recently but with Billy Jones playing as badly as he has been we need to try something else.
By the same token, what of Adam Matthews? Obviously something is up for him to have never got a look in since signing from Celtic but if he's fit then he's certainly worth a shout. Sam will be deliberating all week over which of the three will be tasked with having to defend against the enigmatic Anthony Martial and at least with Yedlin you know he's not going to be outrun.
Cattermole's Place Now Under Threat?
The emergence of Jan Kirchhoff as a viable defensive midfield option has brought the position of Lee Cattermole in the starting eleven into question, and rightly so. Cattermole has struggled in recent weeks and you have to wonder whether or not Sam has considered dropping him in favour of a more attacking option alongside Yann M'Vila.
For me, we have no link between midfield and attack - not one that has the quality to create problems for the opposition, anyways. Though we never signed a right back in January I feel not signing a proper box-to-box midfielder may prove to be just as catastrophic. We need someone - Jack Rodwell perhaps the obvious choice - to step up and stake their claim as a viable alternative to Cattermole.