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Poor with the ball & lacking Premier League quality; the 5 key reasons for third defeat in a row

Not so much the routine 'Excuse Monday' this week as few expected David Moyes' side would get anything against Manchester City. But with the games running out, are there any lessons we can learn from this latest defeat or are we just lacking Premier League class?

Sunderland v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Six points adrift, seven if you count goal-difference

The story of this weekend's chapter in the relegation saga was written by Saturday night. With Leicester, Crystal Palace and Swansea all winning, Manchester City's Sunday stroll in the early-spring sunshine at the Stadium of Light was more a case of hope-for-the-best than expecting to regain any ground lost in the league table.

Sunderland v Manchester City - Premier League
David Moyes and Pep Guardiola before yesterday's game.
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

But in the end, yesterday's game was another one to chalk off on the road to relegation and with the number of wins likely required to stay up still stood at half a dozen, that figure is now set against just twelve games of the season left.

Here's the reasons Sunderland were unable to prevent Manchester City waltzing off with two unanswered goals and three points according to the manager and his players.

Sunderland v Manchester City - Premier League
Leroy Sane scoring City's second.
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

1. We gave the ball away too much

Less than thirty percent possession and a pass success rate twenty percent lower than Manchester City's impressive ninety, Sunderland continue to be poor in retaining the ball and in how they use it.

Sebastian Larsson told the Sunderland Echo that the effort put in by Sunderland could not have been bettered but that his side's ability to keep the ball out of City's hands for any length of time left plenty to be desired:

To be fair, I don't think we can put much more effort into it.

We won the ball back really well in the first half, but we didn't use it - we gave it away, won it back, then gave it away.

And he would probably be right. Sunderland made more tackles than City and dispossessed their opponents twice as often as in the previous game against Everton, but with such an inability to string passes together, the Black Cats simply kept having to drop onto the back foot.

Sunderland v Manchester City - Premier League
A mismatched game: David Silva up against Sebastian Larsson
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

2. We didn't take our (one-and-a-half) chances

Luck is not bouncing for Sunderland at the moment and in a repeat of the last time out at Goodison Park, if Jermain Defoe hits the woodwork in his one golden chance of the game, Moyes' men will not find the net.

Sunderland v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

In fact, Sunderland haven't scored in a month now as the footballing gods have been adjusting their goal average ever since we managed to hit four past Crystal Palace.

It was the man at the other end who summed up his teammate's frustrations in front of goal with Jordan Pickford telling Sky Sports after the game:

If Jermain’s shot went in off the post then it could have been a different story. As a team, we stuck together and if we keep doing that on the training pitch and in matches then we will get the results we need.

And if Fabio Borini didn't have a wonky shaped head he may well have scored when Defoe's shot rebounded off the post.

The best of the rest of the chances probably fell to Billy Jones who had a couple of decent headers fall kindly for Manchester City goalkeeper Willy Caballero.

Sunderland v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

3. City were lucky - in patches

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola suggested his side were fortunate to go into half time a goal up:

We were lucky to end the first half 1-0 and we scored the second goal and after that we controlled the game.

Certainly there is a case to argue that Sunderland were the better side in the opening period, creating the better chances. But City never looked in much danger during the second period and once Leroy Sane bagged the clinching goal of the game, the Stadium of Light faithful gave up and the visitors waltzed to a certain victory - despite a late scare for a disallowed Jermain Defoe offside 'goal'.

Sunderland v Manchester City - Premier League
David Silva, Aleksander Kolorov and Sergio Aguero celebrating Manchester City's victory
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

4. Individuals worked hard but not all & consistency remains negligible

David Moyes has praised certain individuals for their endeavour against City but out of the thirteen players who took to the pitch in a red-and-white shirt, how many can really say they put their all in to this crucial game - seven, eight? Certainly there remains a handful who believe the battle doesn't belong to them.

Sunderland v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Moyes acknowledged the performances of Didier Ndong and his two full-backs Billy Jones and Bryan Oviedo. But look further behind the headlines which claim this was a hard-working Sunderland showing and consider certain individuals - Lamine Kone - did he demonstrate the extra ten-percent which is needed in a fight to the end? Fabio Borini - did he do enough to prove recent critics wrong?

Even when this side play well, they tend to lose. Individual errors, individual derelictions of duty at key moments and inconsistencies will be the story of this looming relegation of season 2016/17 - as well as injuries of course.

Sunderland v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

5. We lack quality

As David Moyes, said - at the end of the day Sunderland simply lack quality:

Our players gave everything they could, but when we got the ball back, which we did quite a bit, we, at times, lacked the quality to make opportunities or build the play.

Ten seasons in the Premier League and in 2017 Sunderland are fielding a team which can't compete - even when it exerts sufficient effort.

Judgement day is coming for a squad whose annual incarnations continue to prove on that they aren't good enough.

Of those who took to the pitch yesterday, how many would attract a Premier League buyer in the summer? Three? Jermain Defoe, Jordan Pickford and possibly Lamine Kone - and then only based on his fleeting former glories. The rest will either return to their parent clubs or be lined up in the Championship next season.

The only class evident at Sunderland this season has been the supporters who still made up a crowd of 41,000 yesterday. But with apathy now a contagion at the Stadium of Light, once again the faithful made their way to the exits once the game was sewn up by the opposition.

Sunderland v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

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