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On This Day (Feb 2 2016): Kone, Khazri & N’Doye make debuts for Big Sam’s Sunderland v Man City!

It was a sign of things to come as a trio of debutants impressed for Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland, despite losing 1-0 against Manchester City on this day back in 2016.

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

This game was a weird one - despite losing, fans were almost unanimously optimistic about our survival chances having witnessed some excellent performances from a host of January recruits, brought to club by Sam Allardyce from abroad to add quality to a squad that had been desperately lacking it.

Not only did we see the debuts of Wahbi Khazri (a Tunisian international forward, signed from Bordeaux), Lamine Kone (an Ivory Coast international centre half signed from Lorient) and Dame N’Doye (formerly of Hull City, signed on loan from Trabzonspor), but we also saw an incredibly cool and collected central midfield performance from Jan Kirchhoff, who in the previous game down at Spurs had a debut to forget.

City went ahead early in the game, as a deflected cross fell to Sergio Aguero, who fired neatly past Vito Mannone to dampen the enthusiasm of the fans in the stadium.

Yet, Allardyce’s side persisted, and by the end of the game, City could count themselves lucky to have emerged with anything.

Some dangerous crossing from Khazri made Sunderland a huge threat on set pieces, with Jermain Defoe coming close on numerous occasions - and from one of his chances, Billy Jones even hit the post just before half time, a massive let off for Joe Hart in the City goal.

Perhaps the most notable moment of the game came as Kone left his fellow Ivorian, Yaya Toure, face first on the floor chewing grass after coming out on top in one particular duel!

Possession and territory in the final 15 minutes showed how Manchester City were hanging on

Statistics showed that Sunderland’s players ran six kilometres more and had five more shots than their high-flying opponents, a sign of just how confident Allardyce’s side were, despite suffering all season with set backs that had seen them occupy a spot in the Premier League’s relegation zone.

Ultimately though, Sunderland missed far too many opportunities - Jones’ effort off the woodwork perhaps the best of the bunch - and really should have taken something from the game, something that Allardyce was keen to point out after the match:

We missed too many chances today and when you play a Manchester City side and have better chances than them, it shows the level of our performance. There’s no result for us, the points aren’t there, but the positives are. While this performance was the best since I’ve been here, we’re in big trouble now when you look at the other results tonight.

We lost the game and remained four points adrift of Norwich, but the glimpses of quality shown by Sunderland’s new signings against a team challenging for the league title filled fans with confidence that better things were coming - and they were right.