A frustrating but credible point for Sunderland’s young side!
Saturday’s draw at the Stadium of Light was one that was frustrating given we were the better side for large proportions, but nothing to be worried about given the number of positives that Tony Mowbray’s side can take from it.
Having personally not watched Preston for 90 minutes before this weekend, I could see instantly exactly why they’re drawing matches 0-0 so consistently.
They sit deep, they’re massively risk averse and they heavily rely on set pieces to create chances, which in fairness they were unlucky not to score on three occasions from.
Sunderland tried throughout to push for the win, but unfortunately, our lack of strikers was more apparent against a deep line where our more creative players have far less space.
Although Sunderland have only won once at home, yesterday was our second consecutive clean sheet at the SoL and another example of how we look more than comfortable competing against established Championship opposition.
From Mowbray’s substitutions you could see that we tried to go for it, but unfortunately when our chances came through creative moments from the likes of Patrick Roberts and Jack Clarke, we didn’t take them.
Given the nature of our dominance, it’s always frustrating not to see a reward for it, but we should take the positives and move on to another winnable home match against Blackpool on Tuesday!
Tony Mowbray’s young subs brought excitement off the bench!
One thing the back end of the transfer window has certainly brought this Sunderland team is excitement, purely from the array of young talent that we now possess off the bench.
At the beginning of the season, many felt that other clubs were making changes to swing the game in their favour, but now Sunderland too are bringing on players who are getting fans off their seats.
First and foremost, credit to Tony Mowbray for making the changes he did, as it would have been easy to trust his more tried and tested players when the score was level, but he had the bravery to gamble to try and get a winner.
Looking at the first set of changes, Abdoullah Ba brought an instant increase in intensity to our midfield, using his skill and trickery to drive Sunderland forward and get involved. He looks fearless and is a more dynamic option should Corry Evans’ safety net not be required.
The other change saw Amad feature again, a player I will discuss further below, as his touch, composure and pace gives me the belief that his first Sunderland goal is not far away.
Then followed Jewison Bennette, who received an incredible ovation from the Wearside crowd, who whilst didn’t quite deliver much end product this time around, once again showed that his pace is absolutely electric and he is not scared to take players on.
Even Mowbray’s last roll of the dice in Leon Dajaku was worth doing, as he is someone that we all know has talent when confident, so that one big moment may be all he needs to get back to his best.
Those four changes were all young players with pace, energy and a fearless attitude to go and influence the game, which is massively refreshing and fantastic to know that we have players that you’re confident can make a difference.
It is incredibly healthy for the team to have depth and competition for places.
Aji Alese was tremendous on his first appearance at The Stadium of Light!
As per Andy’s Player Ratings, I also thought that was Aji Alese was incredible in his home debut and was Sunderland’s clear man of the match.
His aerial dominance, his brilliant goal-line clearance, his non-stop overlapping, it was an all-around excellent performance at both ends of the pitch.
A surprise signing this summer, the ex-West Ham defender looks to be an excellent recruit in that we have a young and tall defender who possesses pace and is comfortable on the ball.
He was unfortunate not to score for the second match running and I think as I mentioned above, players like Alese add the pace and power that Sunderland have been lacking for years and years.
We began the season discussing how good Dennis Cirkin looked in his new left-centre back role and now I’m sitting wondering how on earth he is going to win that position back for Alese in the current form that he is in.
Another wonderful example of the competition for places in this current Sunderland squad.
Could Blackpool on Tuesday be the match to unleash Amad Diallo?
Whilst I could easily see Tony Mowbray going unchanged on Tuesday night, one change I would consider is bringing in Amad Diallo for Elliot Embleton.
It has to be said first and foremost that Embleton is currently playing out of position so context has to be taken, but against Preston I felt on several occasions that when he was played on the break or with his double chance, he didn’t look confident of scoring.
Against Reading Embleton was Sunderland’s game-changer through his creativity is his best position as a ten, but since against Watford and Preston I think he has struggled to impact the match further forward.
You can understand why Mowbray is playing him there considering he was Sunderland’s highest-scoring midfielder last season, but he is yet to score this year and I feel that Amad would offer Sunderland more in that position given his composure and pace in behind.
The Manchester United loanee has looked promising in all of his cameo substitute apps and I think he would be a more natural option to lead the line.
He has shown the can come in deep and link play, but we also need to have someone who can take on players one vs one and score goals.
If you were Mowbray, would you stick with Embleton or bring in Amad?