John McCormick writes: What do Jordi Gomez, Connor Wickham, Craig Gardner, Stephane Sessegnon and Patrick van Aanholt have in common? The answer is that they all scored or created goals on Saturday.
It doesn’t matter what League we’re in next season, we have to get rid of Patrick. He goes absent more often than Huyton’s schoolkids on a Friday. At least, that’s what I think, but what do I know about football? For a more informed opinion I’ll hand you over to Pete Sixsmith. Let’s see if he agrees:
WEST HAM UNITED (a) THE VIEW FROM THE COUCH.
The tv companies keep buggering around with the fixtures so some trips are difficult. I didn’t fancy a weekend in London (expensive) or a ridiculously early start on the train, so I gave it a miss and decided to watch from the comfort of the TV room at Sixsmith Towers.
It could and should have been a pleasurable experience as we took control of the game in the second half and missed chances that any team hoping to stagger away from the drop zone needs to take. Giving a torpid Hammers side a ridiculously easy goal didn’t help.
In many ways it was a typical Sunderland performance. All the hype being built up after the win over Manchester United, the positive reports coming from the trip to Dubai and the news that “the dressing room is fantastic, everybody is buzzing” gave us some optimism. But, as usual with this club, that bubble proved to be as fragile as the ones blown out by the Boleyn Ground bubble machine.
Had we played like this with 36 points in the bag or at the beginning of the season, there would have been little to worry ourselves about. The seven might have read “Decent performance with much to build on” and there were a lot of goodish things happening out there. But with 11 games to play and 23 points on the board, we cannot afford to miss opportunities like this.
It was a game that BT seemed to see as a walk over for the Hammers and much attention was paid to Dmitri Payet, the star of a useful West Ham side. As it was, he gave a very passable impersonation of Hatem Ben Arfa in that he barely tackled and played like a walking Gallic shrug.
His inactivity gave our midfield plenty of opportunities to dominate the game, but the lack of a Payet type player who can pick a pass out and set up our lone forward with acceptable chances was a huge drawback.
Far too often we played early balls up to Defoe which were swallowed up by the WHU central defenders. James Collins, clearly auditioning for a part in Beowulf, had little trouble in winning headers and it was only when Lee Cattermole dropped a little deeper that we got the ball past Ragnar Collins.
Cattermole had a decent game and looks reasonably well suited to that role with M’Vila playing behind him and Kirchhoff sitting in front of the back four. The former Bayern Munich man had a very good game and was clearly the most accomplished player on the field. He looks impressive in every game he plays.
If you don’t create many chances, you have to take the ones that are created and both Defoe and Rodwell missed a good one each.
Cattermole’s excellent through ball set up Defoe but he put it wide thereby contradicting Glenn Hoddle who must have said at least ten times that “If you give Jermain a chance, he will put it away.” Maybe in the parallel universe that you exist in Glenn…..
Rodwell did well when he came on for a tiring Cattermole and pushed forward well. But he had the best chance and although Adrian saved well, the former Evertonian should have buried the pull back that Khazri provided for him. Grrr………
At the back we looked ok and were able to cope with all that West Ham could throw at us. Mannone made a couple of very good saves and the bar was rattled by Kevin Kyle with a pony tail, but they never looked like scoring – except that they did…….
The space given to Antonio allowed him to speculate (something which we didn’t do) and the ball rolled into the net with Mannone caught flatfooted. Groans at Sixsmith Towers and probably expletives from the green shirted hordes stood behind the goal.
As the game slipped away from us, that awful feeling known as “major setback” descended on Malcolm and me as we sat and watched and cursed Khazri for his trickery. Would George Mulhall have done that? I don’t think so.
The result at Leicester was a help, the one at Watford wasn’t and Palace come to us on Tuesday night on an dreadful run but with Connor Wickham scoring goals.
You could probably write the script for this one………………………………