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Doncaster Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One

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Talking Tactics: How Sunderland eased past a lacklustre Doncaster

Sunderland gave the 4,072 travelling Sunderland fans a professional display, brushing aside a relegation-threatened Doncaster Rovers. What does the data say about the performance?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Sunderland reached the halfway stage in their League 1 campaign with a convincing 3-0 win against Doncaster Rovers. After an encouraging display in the League Cup against Arsenal, Lee Johnson again opted to keep the same system. Carl Winchester and Nathan Broadhead dropped out due to COVID and an injury, with Leon Dajaku and Corry Evans replacing them.


Passing Networks

Sunderland moved the football with ease v Doncaster, with a lack of intensity from the opposition allowing players more time to make the correct decisions. Securing 61% of the possession is one of the highest Sunderland has recorded so far this season when playing against eleven men.

The passing networks show how structured Sunderland are in possession. Dajaku and Gooch provided some excellent width with Bailey Wright moving to RB to allow Dakaju more attacking duties.

Sunderland dictated the game, with Neil and Evans distributing the ball outside rather than forward.


Build-up play

The buildup of Sunderland originated heavily from that right-hand side, which Dajaku facilitated. The German was a real handful, which resulted in him being fouled for the penalty early in the game. He had the most dribble attempts, with three, which feels low considering how many times we saw him running at the defenders.


Shots & xG

It was a good day in front of goal, recording our joint highest shots tally on the road this season, with 20. This matches Burton and Shrewsbury.

9 outfield players recorded shots and racked up an impressive 2.51 xG. This number is inflated due to the penalty, but it was earned by the consistent attacking efforts made.

Doncaster only attempted 3 shots, which is the lowest Sunderland has faced all season so far.

Who played well statistically?

Dan Neil

It feels like the obvious answer to this as Dan Neil has been playing well every week, but this another professional and tidy game by the local lad. His passing is superb, it’s not only accurate but a variety of short, average, and long passes to his game.

There is no stat to measure composure, but I am sure Dan Neil would be the best in League 1 for that. Dan Neil has the one trait that will make him a premier league player, intelligence. It’s a pleasure to watch his development every time he plays.

Alex Pritchard

Pritchard was my Man of the Match, creating 0.4 xA (expected assists). He got off to a rough start at the club, suffering a pre-season injury then catching coronavirus at the start of the season set him back.

Now he is up and running, Pritchard is pulling the strings for Sunderland. He showed his quality against Arsenal and dismantled Doncaster with ease. We are in short supply of attacking players right now and Pritchard must be kept fit.

Doncaster Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Sunderland After 23 Games

Right now, Sunderland is on track to record 92 points this season. After 23 games, Sunderland finds itself almost at its best stage since they fell into the division, only one point behind the 18/19 campaign.

Our next opponents: Sheffield Wednesday

The last time the sides met, Marvin Johnson (18) was a crucial player who received the ball the most. Despite losing 3-0 Sunderland had statically a better game than Sheffield Wednesday but mismanaged the match and allowed them an easy win.

The main thing I can take from looking at Sheffield Wednesday is they play tight matches, suffering the Jack Ross syndrome of drawing too many games. They are hard to beat and haven’t lost in 12 league games, but I feel confident we can have some revenge come Thursday night

Sheffield Wednesday v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

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