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Sunderland 1-3 Stoke City: Brutal capitulation highlights need for investment

Sunderland's latest loss came today against Stoke City at the Stadium of Light, leaving David Moyes side in the bottom three and looking dreadfully short of quality in just about every area of the pitch.

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A Marko Arnautovic brace lead Stoke City past Sunderland as they inflicted a 3-1 defeat on the Wearsiders at the Stadium of Light.

Peter Crouch pushed Stoke's lead to three with a first half header, before Jermain Defoe scored what proved to be a mere consolation as Sunderland fell to an embarrassing home defeat.

Suffering only their second home loss in seven, Sunderland now sit second bottom after Hull City's victory over AFC Bournemouth. David Moyes must somehow try to coax seven or eight wins from a team that were comfortably out-classed against a mid tier Premier League club. Perhaps most worryingly this was the third recent collapse under pressure from the men in red and white following their capitulations at both Burnley and Swansea.

It took ten minutes for Stoke to settle into a pattern of comfortable dominance at the Stadium of Light.

The Wearsiders were given their first warning when Donald Love deflected a back post Peter Crouch header just wide of the far corner.

The same tactic brought further dividends just minutes later with a looping back post header from Arnautovic just evading Crouch and dropping into Vito Mannone's hands.

Stoke didn't have to wait long to break the deadlock Arnautovic converting in the 15th minute to give the visitors a deserved lead. The Austrian international was found by a perfectly weighted Xherdan Shaqiri ball over Donald Love. Arnautovic was originally denied as Mannone blocked his near post effort through on goal, he made no mistake smashing the rebound into the roof of the net before the Italian could react.

The former Inter Milan man bagged again, completing a couple of quick one twos to get in behind the Black Cat's back line. The 27 year old combined with Shaqiri and then Crouch before finishing past Mannone at his near post. The Austrian's superb composure ended a sublime bit of one touch play, in what was definitely one of the best goals seen at the Stadium of Light this season.

Whilst many will talk of passion and mentality when assessing Sunderland's first half struggles, both goals showed a gulf in quality between the Mackems and their mid table opponents.

Sunderland were visibly unsettled and panicking having fallen two behind in just over 20 minutes, in what was marked as a crucial fixture in their fight for survival. Shaqiri nearly capitalised on Black Cats indecision, not quite getting a shot away after Arnautovic dispossessed Papy Djilobodji who naively tried to usher the ball out of play just outside his six yard box.

The embarrassment grew for Sunderland as Mannone nearly fumbled a tame effort from Shaqiri into his own net, being saved by the post conceding a needless corner. A hopeful diagonal ball from Charlie Adam from the resulting corner lead to City's soft third. Crouch easily rose above Mannone heading into an empty net. After a promising display against Liverpool Mannone outlined why he has spent most of his stay in the North East on Sunderland's bench with awful decision making.

Three nil down at home against mid table opposition was enough to see many home fans leave in disgust. Those fans missed Sunderland's first attempts to unsettle Lee Grant and the Stoke defence. Jack Rodwell blasting down Grant's throat before seeing Shawcross deflect the rebound behind for a corner. Patrick Van Aanholt skied an ambitious volley well wide from the resulting corner.

In what has long been the narrative with Sunderland, Jermain Defoe offered them hope. The 34 year old buried clinically across grant after being played one on one with the Stoke stopper after Love's ball over the top. Sunderland still looked short of ideas and a route back into the game at 3-1 but Defoe's goal five minutes from time gave them a chance.

Sunderland upped their tempo and intensity in the second half, throwing caution to the wind, committing several players to attacks immediately. Quickly after the break Sunderland squandered two half chances, first Fabio Borini had a shot deflect away by Grant at his near post. Soon after Sebastian Larsson skied trying to curl unmarked, first time just outside the Potter's area.

Consequently Sunderland's attacking approach gave Stoke a slew of chances to kill the game. A crouch snap shot rolled tamely into Mannone's arms when the lanky forward might have expected to score, this came just inside five minutes of the second period.  Arnautovic nearly completed his hat-trick on another Stoke break, dragging wide after being slipped in on goal by Shaqiri.

With over 30 minutes to play Rodwell squandered a pivotal chance as Erik Pieters blocked a Defoe pass straight to the midfielder but he slashed wide unmarked in the penalty area.

An improved effort and greater commitment boosted the atmosphere inside the Stadium of Light but the nervousness and sense of disaster never completely disappeared. This was best embodied by Papy Djilobodji who recklessly hacked Arnautovic to break up a Stoke counter attack. The 28 year old who was poor throughout, left the ground and made no attempt to play the ball, luckily he was only booked.

Sunderland finally began to put consistent pressure on the Stoke goal with just a quarter of the game remaining but there were few clear-cut chances for the Black Cats. Jason Denayer squandered a decent opportunity when he headed over from a bouncing Adnan Januzaj corner.

Roughly around the 80 minute mark the home side ran out of steam, resorting to long hopeful clearances in their weak attempts to build momentum. It was particularly damning that with match slipping away Moyes felt unable to bring on any substitutes to give the team a boost.

Sunderland had just two senior outfield players on the bench, due to a slew of injuries. However the lack of changes could still be seen as overly conservative management from an under fire coach.

It's hard to imagine a more deflating result and performance the home side could have given, it's almost impossible to imagine this group, under current management gaining enough points for survival.