As the actress said to the bishop, this will be a quick one.
To be fair Sunderland were better than Stoke. But that’s like saying pooh is better than stinky pooh. And I wouldn’t say that.
A nice ½ empty stadium to witness a rather tedious game. Nothing too much was to be learned from this. Even if the result was more never-racking than it needed to be.
As we saw at the weekend, Alexis is back. He’s running this team. He should be captain now. Scoring goals and creating. He has managed to wake up Ozil. And he manages to find a way to play alongside elephant man. If only he could find a way to find the AR8. Tonight he seemed to take a couple of steps back. When the play by-passes AR8 we made some progress. He was not with it today. I suspect he was carrying an injury and now he’ll be sidelined.
But we can’t play with both Gibbs and Bellend. Gibbs just has no clue what to do with the ball going forward. Funny that given that he started as a winger. Again a team like Stoke or even playing away – where we need some defense I get it. But at home against a shit team he does not help too much. And Bellend also has no real clue and looks to hand off the ball to others.
But we have Xhaka running the team now to help us along. Notice how he’s introduced long, raking passes x-field. I think AR8 even copied him and perfectly played, in the first half, a x-field pass to Bellend. He’s moving the ball quicker. And he started the move to Ozil that created the first goal. Defensively he’s still a little suspect but he’s now the platform of our team.
Unfortunately when we start to move the ball more quickly our elephant man gets left behind. Look carefully for that first goal and you’ll see that neither of our center forwards made a move to attack the ball. Alexis (obviously) did and behind him was Holding. But elephant man was on the edge of the box watching and Welbeck was watching from the penalty spot.
Would you want Butman as you’re back up (no pun intended) to Cech next year? On this showing he demonstrated promise and I’d prefer him to Ospina. Without him Sunderland would have lost by more than five goals. But it does not look like that goal difference matters now. It’s very long odds now against us. In truth I’m a little surprised we got this close to the top 4. And it just goes to show how maddening and pathetic it was that we threw those points away against Crystal Palace, Watford and West Brom. Just a single point from any of these three games and…..(of course, Liverpool could claim the same with their.
So, onto Sunday. Let’s see if we can feed the Liverpool the same lunch fare that Sp*rs ate for their West Ham game. Unlikely though as Middlesborough are truly poor – just not as poor as Shitty Stoke.