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Fixing Fabio - It’s time he stepped up to the plate once more

Last week, Sunderland were once again left to rue missed opportunities as our goal drought extended to a fourth consecutive matchweek. Now is the time for Fabio Borini to step up and rediscover the kind of form that has served us so well in the past.

Sunderland v Stoke City - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The most recent amalgamation of a line-up thrown together by David Moyes has involved Jermain Defoe characteristically spearheading our attack, with Fabio Borini and Adnan Januzaj flanking him on either side.

But with four goalless outings in a row, it would appear that the triumvirate tasked with spearheading Sunderland’s offensive actions is seemingly ineffectual.

If you looked at a team sheet with that trio in attack, and hadn't seen us in action at all this season, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this isn't a half-bad attacking trio. After all, there's no doubt in anyone's mind regarding Defoe's abilities while Januzaj is a promising prospect, and Borini was great for us back in 2014.

Sunderland v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

But as you might have noticed, one of these appraisals isn't quite like the others.

Borini's reputation is based entirely on the past - and that's precisely where it's headed. A gun-for-hire bought from Liverpool, Borini was thrust into the limelight and made it his own, quickly winning us over by firing Sunderland to safety in the most crucial of fixtures during that tumultuous season.

Then came the summer window of 2014, and with it our psychotic pursuit of the young Italian amid his ambiguous future at Liverpool. When we did, eventually, re-secure his services a year later, the morale boost almost made us forget about the fact Dick Advocaat was running us into the ground. Borini was greeted as a returning hero who would surely fire us to victories galore; he was a symbol of hope and change.

Unfortunately, things didn’t quite turn out that way, and the modern day Borini isn't the symbol of hope and aspiration that he once was. Defoe is our relegation war hero now, and I can't help but think that Borini might have been rather reluctant to relinquish the torch of adulation.

Sadly for Fabio, he just isn’t as prolific or effective as Jermain Defoe which has subsequently led to the energetic Italian being consigned to a life out wide. Successive managers have tasked the Italian with playing as a winger, or inside forward, but to little real success. Fabio just doesn’t appear cut out to be a wide-man.

On the opposite wing to Borini, Adnan Januzaj has received mixed reviews this season, but we've had enough reason to believe the quality is there - even if the Belgian can be somewhat inconsistent. With three assists so far, Adnan Januzaj hasn't exactly moved mountains this season, but he has created three more goals than Fabio Borini.

If the Italian isn't creating chances, then he needs to start taking them. Borini has been given multiple opportunities to stake his claim for a more central position in attack, but has been unable to impress when afforded the chance. The fact that Borini struggled with an injury earlier this season doesn't absolve him of a measly record of one goal in fourteen appearances - he simply hasn’t been good enough.

He no longer leads the line up front and has dropped down the pecking order of penalty takers - to be frustrated is to be human, but he needs to rise above it and focus on the aspects of his game that can give him a shot at rekindling the kind of form that endeared him to the fans in the first place.

Just because Fabio is stationed on the flank doesn't mean he can't make a striker's contribution. We’ve seen him score when tasked with cutting in from a wide position on several occasions, in fact his first goal for the club - a thunderbolt against Newcastle - was from the very position just described.

Furthermore, remember our opener in the Capital One Cup final against Manchester City? Borini weaved through Kompany and Demichelis to knock it past Pantilimon from a tight angle. The equalizer in last season's 2-2 draw at home to Crystal Palace also springs to mind for the same reason. He is more than capable of being effective in that wide-forward position, he just needs to meditate on moments like these and start producing them again.

Adapting to that inside-forward role - a healthy mixture of winger and striker - where he is tasked with cutting inside from the flanks to fire on goal whenever possible will not only give us a more exciting dynamic, but will also give the opposition something more to consider than merely man-marking Jermain Defoe.

The spotlight at Sunderland is there for the taking if Borini wants it enough; he himself knows just how adoring our fans can be when a player rises to the challenge and produces the goods. Now is his time to deliver.

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