Sunderland looked to get back to winning ways ahead of the international break with Wayne Rooney’s Birmingham being the next opponent at the Stadium Of Light. Following clear frustration at the lack of cutting each against Swansea, Mowbray looked to rectify this and named 3 strikers on the Sunderland bench.
Sunderland had to survive a ropey period of Birmingham dominance, but managed to brush the blues aside 3-1 - leaving Birmingham fans questioning the decision to let Jobe move to Wearside during the summer window.
Due to a hamstring injury in the warmup, Sunderland were forced into a last-minute change which saw both new recruits in the heart of defence in Jenson Seelt and Nectar Triantis, the latter making his competitive debut in red and white. Other than that, however, Sunderland named an unchanged midfield and attack and lined up in their usual 4-1-4-1 formation.
Birmingham have enjoyed surrendering possession under Rooney after he admitted he needed a prolonged period of time to play his preferred style of play.
Lining up in a 4-2-3-1, Burke and Miyoshi would look to use their pace to exploit Sunderland on the break. Old friend Dion Sanderson captained the Blues as he made his first return to Wearside following his successful loan spell during the years in League One.
Sunderland’s Defensive Debuts
Due to the unfortunate timing of both Ballard and O’Nien’s suspensions, Sunderland were forced into a change at the back. Jenson Seelt had been widely expected to make his first start following a cameo a few weeks prior, however, Nectar Triantis was only named as a substitute until about 10 minutes before kick-off.
Due to a late Cirkin injury he was jolted into the Starting XI and I’m sure most fans, myself included, were preparing for the worst under our breath.
Truth be told, Triantis and Seelt understandably looked off the pace during the first half as they struggled to adapt to the speed of the Championship. Seelt to his credit looked more assured and has put his name into the equation for the Plymouth game following the extended break.
Both players did show their ability, not only in their defensive talents but also their passing range and ability to play out from the back Seelt completing 52/56 passes and Triantis 43/49, something that with more game time no doubt, will set Sunderland up nicely for the future and become two more shrewd signings.
Special mentions to Niall Huggins, who probably had his best all-around game for Sunderland, he was always a threat on the overlap for Patrick Roberts and most notably, made two clearances one of which was spectacularly off-the-line to prevent Birmingham from taking the lead before half-time.
Sensational Set Pieces
Sunderland have been notorious in recent years for having a poor record from set pieces, and in particular corners. It’s a welcome sight to see the club putting the hours on the training ground to good use with two of Sunderland’s goals coming as a result of pre-determined routines.
The first came after sustained Sunderland pressure and saw Nazariy Ruysn stoop down for a flat-driven ball at the near-post, flicking the header into the box for Jobe to drive home against his ex-employers to open the scoring. The Ukrainian worked tirelessly and deserved his assist, seemingly being able to do everything but score for Sunderland at the moment.
The second goal was also a well worked routine as the corner was played short to Roberts to change the angle, he then proceeded to whip a deep ball to the back post that Trai Hume was able to divert back across the goal. Triantis and Sanderson collided in a melee and the ball was poked home, Hume’s involvement was eerily similar to his goal against Birmingham in this fixture last season.
Due to the attacking threat of Miyoshi on the counter, Hume was positioned on the left and restricted in his usual inverted fullback role with Huggins adopting a more orthodox right back in this game.
The passing network below showcases a much more symmetrical system with Jobe performing his usual role of pushing into the half-space and Neil operating as a roaming box-to-box midfielder ahead of Pierre Ekwah.
Jack Clarke was kept unusually quiet by the Birmingham back-line, being doubled up on on the majority of occasions resulting him having to pick the ball up in deeper areas than he'd usually like.
Despite this, he still completed 4/7 successful dribbles and came away with yet another impressive assist despite not receiving official accreditation.
Sunderland’s final goal of the afternoon came from Clarke’s lightning feet, dropping his shoulder and flashing a ball across home for Adil Aouchiche to open up his account for Sunderland.
Eliezer Mayenda finally made his debut for Sunderland after his long-awaited injury struggles and if not for a strong save from Ruddy’s face, would've found himself on the scoresheet.
The young Spaniard looked very lively during his cameo and can only bode well once he and Rusyn find the back of the net on a regular basis.
Despite looking sloppy at times, Sunderland still managed to get the job done and that’s the sign of a developing young side, that at points last year at home were unable to push on and deal with the adversity of conceding after being on top.
Sunderland are now up to five home wins this season, addressing an area of weakness which hampered Sunderland’s league position towards the end of last season.