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Sunderland v Charlton Athletic - Sky Bet League One

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Talking Tactics: Analysing what went right & what went wrong for Sunderland on Saturday

Brandon Feeley looks deeper at Sunderland’s tactics and game-plan from Saturday’s performance against Charlton - what can we learn from what the data shows us?

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images


Sunderland originally started with a 4-4-2, before switching to 3-4-3 at the start of the second half. Many sources still cite Sunderland lining up 3-4-3 but, as the player locations later in the article will show, it was actually more of a 4-4-2

Sunderland v Chalrton lineups

First Half

Sunderland and Charlton both had early chances and both sides arguably could have scored. Charlie Wyke had an off day and missed chances that he’s taken in previous matches. Sunderland’s first warning shot was a deflection onto the post from a Charlton freekick. If that wasn’t a warning for Sunderland a few minutes later in the 31st minute Charlton scored from a corner. A routine save from Burge was spilt, and Scowen - who was off balance whilst clearing - put through his own net.

Second Half

Lee Johnson chose not to make a sub at half time and it appeared Sunderland had switched to 3-4-3. This proved to be ineffective as Charlton scored in the 61st minute. Sunderland made four subs, which changed the momentum, and pulled one back in the 77th minute with a crazy diving header from Scowen, who benefitted from the Charlton keeper being out of position. The header is registered as 25 yards out from the goal. Overall, Sunderland didn’t do enough for a point, and slipped to an untimely defeat, ending a great run of form.


Sunderland created close to 0.9 xG in the first half, Wyke had chances to score and our top scorer had a bad game. He’s been fantastic this season and this will happen occasionally.


Other than through Aiden McGeady, Sunderland lacked a cutting edge. I thought Gooch was poor in this respect, and his lack of creativity here shows. However, it shows how big of a role McGeady has played since coming back into the team under Lee Johnson.

Average player location

Sunderland lacked great structure (Minutes 1-59) before going 2-0 down. Gooch is almost as deep as Max Power at Right Back and this also isolated O’Brien. After making the subs (Minutes 62-96), Sunderland had a much higher line and focused efforts down the left with Jordan Jones. McLaughlin (2) when coming on played almost as a wing-back as Sunderland prioritised passing out wide.

visual done by @brandonfeeley97


Sunderland had a lot more activity in the box against Charlton than they did in the Peterborough game. We had chances to win today, and should have done better.

visual done by @brandonfeeley97

Charlton had fewer shots than Sunderland, but more clear-cut chances (see xG map). They only have one goal on this map as Scowen’s oggie is the green dot on the left of Sunderland goals visual!

visual done by @brandonfeeley97


There are two players that I thought were not quite good enough today, and the data, to an extent back, this up.

Firstly Gooch, in his average location, is playing deep for a winger. His passing map shows he didn’t do anything on the wing. When I compare his passes until he was subbed with McGeady, we find the Irishman is at least more attacking.

The second player is Winchester. His stats were really bad. There isn’t a lot to say about him other than his passing which is crucial in his position was anonymous, compared to Scowen, who controlled the Sunderland passing.

Going Forward

On another day, I think Sunderland could have won this game, but the starting eleven was wrong and inefficient shooting also cost us. So if I was Lee Johnson, I would have to make some changes.

If Hume can play 75 minutes, I would start him ahead of McFadzean, I’d bring in McLaughlin for Winchester, and Jones for Gooch. O’Brien does a lot of dirty work off the ball, and I like him for that. However, if Ross Stewart got the nod ahead of O’Brien, I wouldn’t be surprised.

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