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Sunderland need a win - what tactical tweaks should Lee Johnson make against Ipswich?

It’s fairly obvious that teams have worked our how to expose our biggest weaknesses. That, combined with poor results, means Lee Johnson needs to freshen the team and tactics up. What should he do on Saturday?

Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Sean Brown says...

I don’t think we’ve been “worked out” as much as specific areas have been exposed as weak points that can be exploited, but these weak points tend to be the same in most sides, which is why the tactics employed against them are the same across football.

It hasn’t taken this many sides - Championship level also - to discover our lack of ability to defend set pieces and crosses generally. It hasn’t suddenly dawned on the opposition that we lack physicality in certain areas - and there’s nothing Lee can do to address a lack of physicality in the squad before January at least.

It’s more to do with the psychology of the side and of course the backline performing to the same standards seen in the cup and in matches where we didn’t concede so easily from those attacks.

You could argue the keepers need to enforce their area more efficiently and aggressively, but as recent results are more to do with players not tracking back when they should or lads getting pulled across and leaving gaps for attackers to get a shot away - I’m not sure there’s anything to do here but hope confidence in defensive positions can make a return.

I’d certainly prefer a midfield two of Evans and O’Nien rather than sitting our more creative mids in defensive positions to protect the back line, but again, the midfield performance is reliant on our wingers and forwards holding the ball up and ensuring we aren’t spending all that long chasing the game... but at this point it feels like I’m very much stating the obvious.

This doesn’t require an ingenious never before seen solution - it requires an increase in performance levels from the lads selected to do the job. I’m just hoping they’ve ignored outside influences, worked on supporting one another better and the increased external pressure on this particular fixture doesn’t have an impact on our less experienced players.

Sunderland AFC v Mansfield Town: Emirates FA Cup First Round Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Gav says...

The best we’ve looked at home all season was against Cheltenham, when our 4-4-2 ripped them to shreds. Now, I don’t think that this will be the same kind of game, but now that Broadhead is fit you have to get him back in the side with the big man up top.

Pressing from the front will be key, but so will ensuring we outwork Ipswich in midfield. Our two full backs have been left exposed far too often and I’d go as far as to suggest that prioritising that coverage over creative wide play might win us the game.

I’d be tempted to stick Embleton and Pritchard out wide, knowing they can both work hard and produce quality in key moments.

Ultimately, we just have to work harder than Ipswich. If we do that, we’ll win.

Question is, will they do it? Recent performances suggest we’re struggling, but I think there’s enough about us to buck our ideas up in such a massive game.

Sunderland v Accrington Stanley - Sky Bet League One Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Michael Dunne says...

Something has to change for sure.

We need a win - and badly. We aren’t there just yet, but it’s very close to ‘must win’ territory, and I can see Lee Johnson attempting to freshen up the side with this in mind.

Nathan Broadhead has impressed in the few chances he has been given thus far. His goal against Bradford in the EFL Trophy reinforced his ability and finishing prowess - and if he’s deemed fit, I think it would be wise to start him alongside Ross Stewart at the weekend.

Stewart can look isolated at times, and I think that extra man up top could be beneficial. Broadhead could also play in that proverbial ‘10’ role and link the play from midfield to attack. It’s time that he got a run in the team to see what he can do.

Other than that, I do not anticipate drastic changes. I would like to see Corry Evans start games more regularly and nail down the central midfield position. Luke O’Nien has just been so poor in that position recently, and I think he should be dropped for the weekend.

It remains to be seen whether this will happen or not.

Sunderland v Bradford City - EFL Trophy Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Kelvin Beattie says...

Like Michael, I would like to see Broadhead and Stewart twinned up front.

I would play Winchester, Flanagan, Doyle and Cirkin in defence, and Corry Evans in central midfield with Dan Neil, Embleton and McGeady in front of him.

I would make a serious return to the intermittent press that worked so well at the start of the season and attack the tractor boys for all we are worth. Dajaku, Gooch and O’Nien could all play a part from the bench, as we look to strangle the game in the latter stages.

Hopefully, a fully committed crowd and a vibrant start will sweep us onward and out of this slump. Flanagan has had a very positive international break, so I’m looking for a return to his early-season club form from him.


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