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New Year Moyes: Rating Dave's Decisions v Burnley

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Team selection, tactics, substitutions and post-match comments - we analyse them all! How did Moyesy rate after this weekend's defeat to Burnley?

Burnley v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Team Selection: Bizarre

Sunderland have not got many central midfielders - this is fairly well known and accepted. Most of our 'better' central players are injured, and one week from now we'll likely be without another when Didier Ndong heads off to Gabon to play in the African Cup of Nations.

With that in mind, the decision was taken to drop Ndong and replace him with John O'Shea, who was accompanied by Sebastian Larsson.

This is fair enough I suppose, but not when you consider that Burnley played in a 4-4-2 and the midfield battle was there to be won if we fancied it - a solid middle three against a resolute Burnley side probably should have been the way to go.

I was glad to see Adnan Januzaj back in the side because despite failing to impress me for much of this season, he deserved to play after his second half performance against Watford. He set up Defoe's late consolation and we have to try and make his partnership with our forwards work if we are to stand a chance of beating Liverpool.

Gav's rating: 3/10 - Midfield battle was lost before we even got on the pitch!

Tactics: No Clear Plan

I guess that I alluded to it somewhat in the first section, but the decision to not go with a more rigid 4-5-1 probably cost us the game. It's hard playing a middle two in the Premier League these days and we just didn't have enough bodies in there for us to get enough of a foothold in the game.

We barely got the ball to Januzaj or Defoe, and once Anichebe left the pitch injured we fell apart.

We have to go back to basics against Liverpool - Moyes is up against it but he certainly did not help himself with the way in which we set up against Burnley.

Gav's rating: 2/10 - Hitting it long against a team that defend as well as Burnley do was a bad decision!

Substitutions: Mostly Forced Changes

Lamine Kone and Victor Anichebe were both injured in the first half, meaning that David Moyes was forced into making changes - that said, his decision to insert a barely-fit Steven Pienaar was a baffling one when you consider that he commented pre-match that the South African "wasn't ready to play against Burnley".

Wahbi Khazri must have really pissed his manager off.

Didier Ndong came on for the injured Kone and John O'Shea dropped in to defence, something which we had to do due to a lack of other options. It ended up being an absolute catastrophe as O'Shea and his partner, Papy Djilobodji, just couldn't seem to find their rhythm throughout the game.

With the game already lost O'Shea was removed (presumably to keep him 'fit' for the Liverpool game) and replaced by Donald Love, who will surely start against Liverpool after Billy Jones picked up his fifth yellow card of the season, meaning that he will miss out.

Gav's rating: 2/10 - They were mainly forced changes, but - Pienaar ahead of Khazri?!

Post-Match Comments: Brutally Honest

There's no mistaking what David Moyes had to say after the game - he wasn't making excuses for his under-performing players and was fair in his assessment.

He said:

It was a really poor performance; I’ve got no excuses for it. It was way below the levels we should be performing at.

The goals we conceded were terrible and we didn’t make the most of any of the chances we created.

We started well but that fell by the way side, it was a typical old fashioned game, and we just weren’t able to be typical and old fashioned at times.

The boys kept going when it was tough at the end and the game had gone from us. It was too late by then because in that 15-minute period after half time we were poor and it’s cost us.

We have to get ready for Liverpool now, no time to dwell. We have to dust ourselves down and go again.

We’re going to have to do really well to get anything from the game on Monday and we need to go out and try and do that.

Play like we did at Burnley against Liverpool and it will be 8 or 9 and not four. It was truly embarrassing and the type of performance that you'd expect a teams struggling at the wrong end of the table to put in against a top side - not to discredit Burnley, because they were fantastic, but they should not be turning us over in that manner.

Gav's Rating: 10/10 - At least he was brutal!