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Burnley v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

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Two Up, Two Down: What were the positives & negatives from Sunderland’s draw at Burnley?

Despite a lengthy injury list and the hosts’ impressive home record, the Lads left Turf Moor with a hard-earned point. What did our writers make of the game?

Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Anthony Gair says...

Resolute defending

During a game in which we knew we were going to be on the back foot, we were incredible at the back.

From Danny Batth keeping the boys in check to Anthony Patterson catching everything and Luke O’Nien being, well, Luke O’Nien, nothing was going in for Burnley last night.

Lynden Gooch was terrific, too!

Luke O’Nien stands tall

Speaking of O’Nien, we’re incredibly lucky to have a player who loves the club, breathes the club, and improves with the club.

He’s a battler, a wind up merchant and he’s ours.

He might not be everyone’s cup of tea but he’s the difference between us and the other teams in this division that wish they had a workhorse like him. I think I love him.

An offside goal

Yes, it was right to give it as offside but I’m still gutted!

Actually, I thought all the officials had a great game compared to what we’ve seen all season.

Come back, Ross!

We need Ross Stewart back as soon as possible so that we can play Joe Gelhardt somewhere where he prefers to play, because it obviously isn’t as a frontman.

He’s not confident at all at the minute and although I don’t doubt his ability, he doesn’t look like he’s good enough for the Championship at this time.

Burnley v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Joseph Tulip says...

The belief is growing

There’s no doubt that our victory at Norwich was significant in the way we approached this game, and it was clear from kick off that we had genuine belief in our ability to get at least a point.

With a defence marshalled by the experience of Danny Batth, Luke O’Nien and Lynden Gooch, we were never going to be a pushover, even against the Championship’s top side.

That leadership, coupled with some gritty defending and many battles won in midfield, enabled our creative players to carve out a few good opportunities.

Of course Burnley had chances but we earned our point and deserved it. We can be proud that we’re the first side to keep a clean sheet at Turf Moor in the league in almost a year.

Tactical developments

Tony Mowbray demonstrated that he’s far from a one trick pony.

Yes, our gaffer is loyal to certain players, formations and a style of play, but he made key changes last night.

The introduction of Pierre Ekwah added some height and physicality to the midfield and the return of Alex Pritchard offered some experience at the top end of the pitch, while also leading a deliberate press which frustrated Burnley and made it difficult for them to break us down.

Those subtle changes worked a treat and there was no need for a system change to a back three or five, which some fans had been calling for.

Patterson in the shop window?

Not a negative from a footballing point of view, but the performance of Anthony Patterson in front of the Sky Sports cameras will have attracted further admirers, because he was commanding.

He caught so many crosses with satisfying ease until being forced to punch one high ball clear late on.

Add a crucial save in the first half and the academy product looked assured against the league leaders and there appears to be no ceiling to his capabilities.

Substitutions that reduced our scoring threat

I was pleased that we got our changes in first, because introducing some fresh legs before Burnley did was crucial.

However, I would’ve been keen to keep both Pritchard and Patrick Roberts on the pitch. The former was clearly disappointed to be replaced and had they both stayed on, it would’ve increased our chances of snatching a winner.

That’s not to belittle the contributions of Isaac Lihadji and Abdoullah Ba, who worked tirelessly to contribute to a well earned point.

Matt Smith says...

The Californian Maldini?

We’ve seen more than our fair share of calamitous moments with Lynden Gooch in a defensive capacity, but he was a colossus at the back.

Playing like a man whose contract is up this June rather than next year, his anticipation, positional discipline and tenacity kept Burnley out all game.

Two key blocks, one in the first half in putting his body in the line and taking advantage of a poor touch to block an almost certain goal in the second half, were the highlights but his experience told all game.

Blooding the young players

Starting with Joe Gelhardt was the right move, despite any misgivings we may have about him, but starting with Pierre Ekwah in the centre was a risk that paid off.

Granted, there were a few simple passes that went astray but his development was evident and he both harassed and showed some surety of touch and composure when needed. Despite Alex Pritchard’s objections, it was also good to see Abdoullah Ba, Edouard Michut and Isaac Lihadji introduced for the final third.

Experience in a game against quality opponents with a brief to maintain shape offered a different but essential step in the development of players on whom we’re likely to depend heavily next year.

The Burnley love-in

Watching the game on Sky Sports made me realise how annoying it must’ve been for opposition fans when watching us during the 1998/1999 season.

Burnley deserve the plaudits but the cameras and pundits seemed to have the script written prior to the game.

Then again, spoiling the party made it all the sweeter, so swings and roundabouts and all that!

The Joe Gelhardt conundrum

I quite like Gelhardt.

His defensive work from the front is admirable and his attitude is what we want to see in players who wear the shirt. There were many examples of this in the first half but he faded in the second and another game has now gone by with him making little impact in the box.

There’s no shame in failing to trouble Burnley’s defence and the lack of alternative options means that he’ll have other opportunities to make amends but we must be close to cutting our losses.

A case of a player in the wrong place at the wrong time, I fear.

Burnley v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images


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