The solid performance by Sunderland in the 0-0 stalemate at Ewood Park on Monday night did leave a couple of unanswered questions about the tactics employed by the Black Cats. There is no question that Sunderland had the better chances in what was a rain-effected game, but I agree with Eric Black in his conclusion that the team lacked guile in trying to break down 10-man Blackburn in the second half (http://www.sunderlandecho.com/sport/sunderland-afc/safc-news/black_we_lacked_guile_1_2164594) when Blackburn put up solid resistance. What the supporters may have questioned is why Steve Bruce waited until the last third of the game to bring on a second true striker, Asamoah Gyan.
Looking at the highlights again, there was a regular succession of half-chances for Sunderland, and on another night at least one of them would have been taken. 17 shots on goal with just 4 on target tells its own story - Darren Bent would normally have slotted in at least one of his 5 chances. The problem with starting with just one striker though is that our five-man midfield, despite their excellent shape and passing, has not yet hit the target this season. Zenden looked very lively when he came on, and came close twice – he deserves another start soon, given his excellent drive and technique.
Overall, we have to be pleased with a point away, and the big plus is the solid defence who clearly have a good understanding and play very well together. Turner and Bramble were outstanding and Mignolet was up to everything thrown at him. The whole rearguard gives the rest of the team and not least the supporters great confidence that they will not give goals away cheaply. Roll on Villa at the SSOL!
©Lars J.S. Knutsen