First let M Salut, just back from a few days in France, salute deputy editor Malcolm Dawson and associate editor John McCormick, nobly assisted by Pete Sixsmith and Jake, for manfully keeping the ship of Salut! Sunderland afloat over Christmas. I wish I could now salute a couple of superb post-derby performances lifting us to heady mid-table heights. A glance at Rob Hutchison‘s one-word verdicts on the Sunderland players on duty at Villa Park rightly suggests a strong enough defensive display and very little else to shout about …
Rob says: “Well we didn’t lose against 10 men. But the final third, oh deary me, it was poor.”
Pants – 7 tidy
Vergini 6 weary
JoS 8 – sound
Wes 7 strong
Jones 6 – patchy
Bridcutt 5 – brief
Larsson – 6 faded
Johnson – 5 tepid
Gomez – 6 pedestrian
Wickham – 6 frustrating
Fletcher – 6 weak
Catts – 7 tigerish
Giaccy – 7 lively
Buckley – 6 busy
* At ESPN, M Salut had his say, too. Read the whole thing at http://www.espnfc.com/club/sunderland/366/blog/post/2219090/blunt-sunderland-desperately-need-january-transfer-activity
… the Villa defence did its job, withstanding sustained but essentially punch-free Sunderland pressure after Delph’s red card just four minutes into the second half.
The dismissal followed a pointless lunge at Gomez, when no immediate danger presented itself. It was a late and reckless challenge — certainly a yellow card offence but no more deserving of a red card than Christian Benteke’s unpunished knee into Liam Bridcutt’s head as they jumped together for the ball in the first half.
Intent was probably absent in both instances, but what was the Belgian striker’s knee doing so high in any case? Bridcutt’s replacement Lee Cattermole had time before the interval to supply two of the first half’s better moments, a pair of crucial and well-timed tackles, and that says it all about the incident-free first half.
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