John McCormick writes:
Keir Bradwell needed to take a break but now he’s back. And not only is he back, he’s bigger and better. With the help of Opta and the FourFourTwo StatsZone app he’s produced a nice analysis of the game last weekend and has some suggestions to offer
After the home loss to Norwich, it’s clear to every Sunderland fan that something is wrong with the club. And while we don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors that has put us in such a mess, we can analyse what’s going wrong on the pitch. Having examined the statistics after the game, I think a few things are clear:
This map shows every pass attempted in the attacking third of the pitch for each team. Blue passes are ones that found their target, red passes were unsuccessful and light blue ones are ‘chances created’.
Three things should stand out:
- The lack of attempted passes being perhaps the foremost concern. At home to Norwich you’d expect to be dominating this stat – but instead Norwich attempted more than double the amount of passes in the final third.
- The second thing here is the pass accuracy – just 35 times during the entire game did one Sunderland team-mate find another in the attacking third. That’s slightly more than one every three minutes. No wonder did we fail to create chances – not only did we attempt less than half the attacking passes Norwich did, we managed to connect with a quarter of their total.
- Also worth noting is that it’s worth looking at just how many long-ball passes we attempted (and failed) that make up our tally of 84. This is something we’ll look at later on but it shows how few short attacking passes were played during the game, definitely one of the key reasons we lost so heavily.
Sunderland’s crossing is almost as poor as their passing:
Sunderland attempted 14 crosses during the match, with just three being successful and two chances being created. Jeremain Lens attempted half of those crosses, but made all of the successful crosses. That means that the rest of the team combined crossed as many times as Lens but not a single one found their man. In fairness to the rest of the team, Jermaine Defoe is a very small target to aim for in the middle of the park but you have to wonder what the rest of the team is playing at when Lens has single-handedly produced every successful cross during the game. You have to look at Dick’s tactics here – while he’s rumoured to be in for a target man this summer, his failure to adapt to the squad he has with him is one of the reasons we created so few chances during the game.
M’Vila had a much better debut than first thought:
Yann M’Vila was certainly the best midfielder on the pitch for us– as evidenced by these stats: M’Vila completed almost a fifth of the entire team’s passes (266 were all that were completed by us in total, Norwich completed just 3 less than we even attempted, with 382). While our average pass completion rate works out as 69%, M’Vila completed 96% of his. And look how scattered around they are – he was an influence all over the pitch. His passing was by far the best in the team, with Cattermole next best on 80%. He also made 12 ball recoveries – more than any other Sunderland player. This is exactly the sort of midfielder we’ve been crying out for – someone who can win the ball and lay it off with accuracy. Cattermole was once this player for us, but as we shall see in a moment, he is much less effective than he used to be. Now for an attacking midfielder, Ellis.
We’re leaking goals because the midfield (M’Vila aside) is offering very little protection:
Not even much to say here, these speak for themselves.
Larsson managed one interception all game, Cattermole completed just a fifth of his tackles. While the back four (and PvA especially) are to blame for the woeful defending, they need protection from the midfield. And Larsson and Cattermole simply aren’t offering that at the moment. Is it any surprise that when two of our better performers from last season are out of form that our performances drop so much?
Route One tactics with Defoe up front don’t work.
This is absolutely down to the tactical set-up Advocaat used, and it’s the ultimate reason we were comprehensively outplayed and outclassed on the day. A huge amount of long balls were played during the game (relative to the small amount of passes played during the game) and literally not a single one aimed centrally found their man. Balls out to the wing were quite successful but look at all those red arrows pointing towards the Norwich goal – there’s no way Defoe is going to be able to out-jump Martin and Bassong at the back – as evidenced by the 11 out of 11 successful headed clearances by the latter and 8 out 8 of from the former. Another example of Advocaat failing to adapt to the squad, although if we’re able to sign a target man this window then we should be a much better team as a result.
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