clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Burton Albion v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One

Filed under:

Talking Tactics: Does Sunderland’s Burton data tell us anything that we should be worried about?

In a frustrating match, Sunderland wasted chances in the first half and Burton ruthlessly scored with their only shot on target. What does the data say?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images


Both teams lined up 4-2-3-1, with Sunderland bringing back Luke O’Nien after missing Saturdays win against MK Dons, for the injured Corry Evans.

Player Locations

Sunderland saw a lot of the football against Burton, and as you can see above, have multiple links between players. What I find interesting is how we have largely switched to playing out wide this season.

As discussed in a previous article v Wigan, Sunderland have more emphasis on playing out wide and less across the middle of the pitch, with O’Nien and Neil not completing at least 5 passes on the visual. This appears to be Sunderland’s playing style, having a central midfielder either go to their nearest winger or back to the centre back - one to keep an eye on in future games.

Burton’s chart is a lot more simple - they didn’t pass the ball anywhere near as much as Sunderland, but had an effective system to target Akins with long balls.


Sunderland produced some great passing numbers, largely down to dominating possession for most of the match. Sunderland recorded 60% possession in the match but failed to score. Here are a couple eye-catching passing performances...

Callum Doyle

Once again, the 17-year-old shows that he can pass a ball with range - and is happy to accept it as well. WhoScored data advises Doyle made 72 passes, and received 51 successful passes in the match.

The passing lengths go a similar way for most players, with the longer the pass, the less likely they are to be successful. Against MK Dons and Wigan, longer passes were more accurate than short.

Dan Neil

When I saw Dan Neil last pre-season under Parkinson, I was convinced he was going to be a great prospect. Now Lee Johnson has given him a chance, he is flourishing nicely.

Neil had a large concentration of passes towards the wing, regularly picking out Cirkin and McGeady. I think Neil will become a key player this season and I hope he continues to play - his passing accuracy is one of the highest this season for Sunderland.

Lynden Gooch

Unfortunately, Gooch had one of those nights for Sunderland - his overall contribution was lower than normal, and we’ll use his passing map to highlight this.

Gooch has a habit of either having a fantastic game or being anonymous - one thing he must work on is his consistency this season. We need Gooch to be playing to his highest standard more often, as his stats in the last couple of seasons are no better than your average League One winger.


This was our downfall on Tuesday night. Sunderland lacked efficiency and missed crucial chances in the match. The xG doesn’t reflect the final score, but shows how wasteful Sunderland was.

In our previous two matches, Sunderland has recorded 1.3 and 1.25 xG (excluding the penalties). Our xG match resembles what MK Dons looked like, quantity losing against quality.

Burton pulled off a clinical performance, scoring with their only registered shot on goal.


Despite suffering a defeat, I still feel good about the season and squad. Burton should be chalked off as one of those games. I believe had Sunderland scored early on, it would have ended up like last season, where Sunderland ran out comfortable 3-0 winners at Burton.

Here is a gallery with further Data Viz from Burton vs Sunderland.


Farewell, Tony, and thanks for the Sunderland memories


Reaction: Tony Mowbray sacked by Sunderland


Editorial: It’s a huge week for Tony Mowbray and Sunderland - it could be make or break

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Roker Report Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Sunderland news from Roker Report