Some people say there are three certainties in life; death, taxes and the fact Sunderland can’t defend. The latter has only been added to the list this season, but looks set to feature for some time.
So just what is going wrong with the Sunderland defence? Well, the only easy way to put it is we do not have any quality within the back four. Our “strongest” line-up, whatever that may be, will always be susceptible to awful mistakes and can capitulate at any moment.
So far this season, Sunderland have conceded 20 goals in all competitions. That’s 2.5 goals a game. The club are yet to keep a clean sheet in any game this season and that is ultimately down to poor recruitment over the summer.
It’s baffling how a defence can perform so drastically despite being a similar defence to the one Gus Poyet possessed during his time on Wearside. Last season we were the draw specialists and drew a ridiculous amount of games 0-0.
The only two names that look to remain in the side are John O’Shea and Patrick van Aanholt. Dick now has to decide between Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Coates as to who will play alongside O’Shea. He also has to choose between Billy Jones and DeAndre Yedlin as to who will take the right-back position, with Adam Matthews seemingly not getting a look in.
It’s quite sad that we almost have to play Patrick van Aanholt as he is our only left-back. He has been the source of a lot of the goals we’ve conceded this season due to being out of position. The pacey wing-back would sooner be up the striker’s end of the field, rather than tracking back and helping out his defenders. In all honesty, his attacking play hasn’t been too impressive this season either. Plenty of times he’s got forward and not picked out a Sunderland shirt with the cross. Or, and seemingly quite often, he will mis-control the ball resulting in a throw-in.
On the other side you have Billy Jones. I question every time just how he has become a Premier League defender. I couldn’t even tell you what he brings to the side if I’m honest. His attacking play is nothing special and neither is his defending. He’s just, sort of, there.
O’Shea has been the only slight glimmer of hope in Sunderland’s defence. His experience has been welcomed and he knows how to organise a defence. But, organising is about as far as his strengths go nowadays. Put him up against a small, nippy striker such as a Aguero, and he will struggle big time.
Where to start with Kaboul? I genuinely started to believe after his impressive performance against Spurs that we he had turned a corner. But, no sooner than a week later, he’s making the same mistakes he had been in the games previous. He turns slower than a ship in the Wearisde dockyard and doesn’t seem to be able to pass the ball. Callum Wilson gave him the run around away to Bournemouth last weekend. The Frenchman’s indecisiveness has given him real problems this season.
Sebastian Coates is another one in the defence who can’t seem to kick a football properly. The 6ft 5in defender does put in some outstanding last-ditch tackles, but then once he gets the ball at his feet he rarely picks out a Sunderland man. Like many of our defence, I have to question how Coates became a Premier League footballer.
Our back-up of Wes Brown does not instil confidence and never more have I been desperately hoping for a transfer window to come around. If the defence doesn’t find some sort of form and confidence soon, then we could be as good as down by Christmas.