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Monday Moyes: Rating Dave's Decisions v Burnley - Controversial Subs Define His Display!

Team selection, tactics, substitutions and post-match comments - we analyse them all! How did Moyesy rate after Saturday's draw in the FA Cup third round against Burnley?

Sunderland v Burnley - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Team Selection: Brave - But Telling

Whilst many expected David Moyes to ring the changes ahead of what is set to be a huge home game with Stoke this coming weekend, he instead opted to go against the grain and picked what can be considered the strongest possible eleven players available to him at the present moment.

I suspected that Joel Asoro and George Honeyman may have come in to give the likes of Jermain Defoe and Adnan Januzaj a rest but the manager did quite the opposite and at least gave the FA Cup the respect that many other clubs fail to treat it with.

Luckily we got through the game unscathed and having this group of players on the pitch together for another ninety minutes will have gone some way to ensuring that they are fully prepared when Stoke roll in to town on Saturday - getting another clean sheet on the board won't have done any harm to the players that started the game, either.

Gav's rating: 10/10 - Fair play to Moyes - he could have easily went with a weaker side!

Tactics: Continuity Is Key

Sunderland have operated within this basic-yet-effective 4-5-1/4-2-3-1 system in recent weeks and it appeared that, with a ninety minute game to further cement our ethos on the pitch, Moyes wanted to yet again set up in the style which he plans on using throughout the rest of this month whilst we deal with having so many players missing, due to a multitude of reasons.

With Sebastian Larsson on the left and Fabio Borini on the right, the plan was to punt it long and capitalise on the second balls left by the Burnley defenders - and whilst we seemed to re-collect the loose ones with ease, we did very little with it when in possession and that will have been hugely frustrating for the manager.

Things might have been different if Victor Anichebe had been on the pitch to offer us an outlet, but Moyes attempted to win the game by setting up the players in a manner which perhaps best suited them against a big, physical and organised side. Had Javier Manquillo not completely over-hit a simple pass to Jermain Defoe, we'd have been talking about a win and not a draw here.

It was one of the worst games of football that I have seen this season but if we had gone gun-ho against Burnley they would have caught us in behind with the pace of Andre Gray - he's deceptively quick and negating his impact, having seen just how lethal he can be when he tore us apart on New Years Eve, was crucial here.

Gav's rating: 8/10 - Negative, but not losing the game was fairly important here.

Substitutions: A Cry For Help?

Sunderland's bench for this game included seniors Mika and John O'Shea, plus youngsters Josh Maja, Joel Asoro, Ethan Robson, George Honeyman and Elliott Embleton.

Of the seven substitutes available to him, David Moyes elected to only bring on John O'Shea, to the bemusement to many of the supporters around me at the match.

Was there something else at play here? I think so.

Let's just say, theoretically, that Moyes had brought on Asoro or Embleton and they had scored or changed the game in our favour. You would imagine that would then give the manager less bargaining chips when trying to convince the Chief Executive and Chairman that we desperately need to invest in our playing squad whilst we have the opportunity to do so, right?

I can relate to Moyes and see why he may have opted to only utilise John O'Shea - that said, I was really looking forward to seeing what some of the younger players could do against decent opposition.

Moyes apparently does not rate or have faith in any of the players he has available to him in his under 23's side - and this, for me, all but confirmed that saddening rumour.

Gav's rating: 5/10 - Not really sure how I should feel about this!

Post-Match Comments: Usual Moyesy

David Moyes was keen to praise the resurgent Jack Rodwell in his post match comments, but didn't hide from the fact that the game itself was absolutely terrible.

He said:

It was a disappointing game all round. I thought we played some good football at times in the first half but we dropped off in the second half.

Whether that was a follow on from the game earlier in the week against Liverpool, I’m not sure, but we didn’t really get up to speed today.

The game was always going to be like that, the game at Burnley the other week was just like that, except we conceded goals.

We’ll take a positive that we didn’t concede any goals today and we got a clean sheet.

I thought we passed the ball well, but from that play we didn’t create any clear-cut chances, I think we missed Victor [Anichebe], we needed a target man who would hold the ball up for us.

I thought Jack [Rodwell] did really well, it’s more minutes for him and I was happy with his performance. He’s started to show us the type of player he can be.

We were at home today and we wanted to win, the replay comes in the middle of two important games for us, but so be it, things happen for a reason, you never know what’s best. We go again and let’s hope we can get to the next round.

Sunderland really could do without playing that extra game on the 17th of January, but getting through this ninety minutes without a hitch was more important than perhaps winning at all costs and having our players push themselves to their limits.

Regardless, Moyes was honest in his assessment of the tie, and I agree with much of it - as a game of football it was absolutely dreadful and the second half felt twice as long as the first, where we looked far better than we did in the second forty-five minutes.

Jack Rodwell's performance was a particular highlight and whilst I have little faith that he'll stay fit and keep proving to be an asset to our side, I hope that he proves me wrong. Rodwell's showing in the opening half was just as good as his first 45 minutes against Liverpool and he's returned looking a far more competent footballer than when he was stricken with injury in late 2016.

Gav's Rating: 7/10 - Fair in his assessment, but his substitute decision was a controversial one.

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