clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Burnley v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

Filed under:

Roker Roundtable: Who stood out as Sunderland executed an impressive game plan against Burnley?

The Lads became the first team to keep a clean sheet in the league at Turf Moor since Manchester City. How impressively did they go about it, and which players shone?

Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Joseph Tulip says...

We’ll never know whether Tony Mowbray’s team selection was influenced by the need to give game time to certain players or as part of a tactical masterplan which saw us become the first side to keep a clean sheet at Turf Moor in almost a year.

In truth, I don’t think he strayed far from his usual line up and tactical approach, but what he did change was highly effective.

Let’s start with the defence.

Three of the back four, Danny Batth, Luke O’Nien and Lynden Gooch, are players with vast Football League experience and that certainly paid dividends as we held our shape, made timely blocks and refused to panic when Burnley were piling on the pressure.

I also think Mowbray wanted experience at the back to deal with the threat of Ashley Barnes and one big chance aside, we handled him admirably.

Pierre Ekwah, despite taking time to grow into the game, has the potential to be a colossal midfield presence. He came in to protect the back four alongside Dan Neil, who in turn is becoming accustomed to doing a disciplined job in the absence of Corry Evans.

In attack, Alex Pritchard was brought into the side to lead the press with Joe Gelhardt who, despite his critics, put in a real shift up front.

Yes, we’re missing Ross Stewart, but we can only use the resources we have at our disposal, and we did so in a way which saw us set up to nullify the hosts, to make it difficult for them to play out from the back, and to frustrate them.

We rode our luck at times but this sort of thing balances itself out over a season. We could’ve even snatched a win on Friday had things gone our way in front of goal.

We set up to make life difficult for Burnley whilst giving ourselves a few opportunities at the other end. The gameplan worked and full credit to Mowbray, his coaching staff and our magnificent players.

The way they’re playing for the shirt is something we haven’t previously seen consistently for at least fifteen years.

I’m not saying that previous teams haven’t given their all, but this level of commitment is more in line with the days of Roy Keane, Mick McCarthy and Peter Reid.

Long may it continue!

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

Malc Dugdale says…

I think the game plan was executed to near perfection on Friday night.

I agree with my fellow Rokerites that our defence was the bedrock on which the whole tactical masterclass was built, and the plaudits were deserved by Lynden Gooch, Luke O’Nien and Danny Batth.

The thing we did better than in a lot of games, however, was to defend incredibly well from the front.

We harried and hassled Burnley and totally stopped them from playing how they wanted to, much like a handful of teams have done to us when we’ve tried to get the ball down and play football our way.

In my view, one of the standout players was Alex Pritchard.

Time and again, you could see him pushing the midfield and forward players up, as well as encouraging them to press as a unit. He ran his socks off to stop Burnley being effective, as did those around him, but the leadership he showed in the middle was a real standout for me.

On reflection, I believe that’s why he didn’t want to be replaced. He clearly didn’t want us to slack off.

The other thing that really worked for me on Friday was the substitutions.

We had to make numerous changes in the second half, but the players who came on were just as effective as those they replaced.

To have such strength in depth alongside a great game plan is a massive positive, especially given our injury troubles. The plan was clearly drilled into all seventeen or so players who took part, and that takes some doing when a lot of the squad were playing internationals during the past week or two.

We’re now set up for a cracking run in.

I can’t wait to see where we end up, but I can’t see us going anywhere other than up from twelfth after such a show of team spirit and determination. I’m over the moon at how this team is coming together and I can’t wait for next season!

Michael Dunne says…

In fairness to Tony Mowbray, he’s been fearless in trying different things in games, which demonstrates a flexibility that some managers certainly haven’t shown.

Sometimes it works as it did against Burnley and sometimes it doesn’t, which was the case against Stoke. On Friday night, however, I thought our defensive set up was on the money.

With Luke O’Nien and Danny Batth in the middle, we had two experienced players who know how to defend and carry themselves within matches. As the season goes on, I’m loving O’Nien more and more, because he’s the type of player every team wants but absolutely hates when they have to play against him.

Their experience really showed at Turf Moor, where they frustrated Burnley throughout.

In attack, I always feel that we’ve got half a chance even with all our injuries. Joe Geldhart works hard and that can’t be doubted, but our biggest threats came on the break though Patrick Roberts and Jack Clarke, along with Amad when he came on.

I felt the longer the game went on, we were the team who were most likely to score. That says a lot about how we played and it was unfortunate that Abdoullah Ba strayed offside at the end.

Ultimately, a point was a great result and it shows that Mowbray is a thinker and he isn’t afraid of trying things, which is exactly what you want with such a young and progressive squad.

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


Starting XI: Two changes predicted for Sunderland today! Will Mason Burstow come back in?


The SAFC 365 Advent Calendar (Dec 2nd): Two of the greatest days!


Match Preview: Millwall v Sunderland - all you need to know ahead of kick-off!

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

A daily roundup of Sunderland news from Roker Report