I wasnt one of the absolute diehards who attended last nights game. I watched it on a stream via my laptop that i managed to hook up to my tv. The stream was canny as well, barely stuttering at all. But as the game got into the final 20 minutes and the hope of a win started to feel like a real possibility, my stream started to play games with me. I was already pacing around the room, sipping from a can of Brewdog IPA but that looks slightly less pathetic when you’re not questioning the integrity of technology. Instead of shouting at our players i was instead berating my laptop and the buffering stream saying things like “Why do this now?! At least let me watch us throw this game away!”
We didn’t throw it away though. My stream got its act together and i could witness Patrick Van Aanholt play a lovely one-two with Jeremain Lens before putting the ball on a plate for Jermain Defoe to seal his hattrick and the three points for us. We could all relax and watch us see the game out. That beer tasting all the sweeter.
It was very encouraging to see us not only come back from a losing position but to see us control the game in the second half after playing so poorly in the first. Lee Cattermole and Yann M’Vila, often the heartbeat of our team, were putting in possibly their worst performances so far this season in the first half. Both players were struggling to move the ball on quickly when we were ahead and had Swansea on the ropes, often cheaply surrendering possession. It was that surrendering of possession that lead to Swansea’s penalty after Yann M’Vila played the ball straight to Modou Barrow who found Andre Ayew before he kicked the floor to win the spot kick.
After Gylfi Sigurdsson sent Vito Mannone the wrong way to equalise, you started to get the sense that this game had the familiar feeling of a “typical Sunderland” performance. That became more than a feeling when Swansea took the lead just a minute after going down to ten men. After being gifted a goal in the opening minutes, been given two further huge chances after that and having an opposition player sent off we’d still found a way to be losing at half time. Typical Sunderland.
Who knows what Sam Allardyces words were to the players at half time but his frustration must have been obvious. Whatever he said worked though. I felt that we needed to be level by at least the hour mark and the fact that we took the lead on 61 minutes was a great testament to the players character.
As much as he can be frustrating, Patrick Van Aanholt was superb going forward. He did brilliantly for his goal which drew us level and, as already mentioned, linked up well with Jeremain Lens before setting up our fourth. Van Aanholt looks more comfortable under and Allardyce system which offers him some protection, rather than the hung-ho tactics of Dick Advocaat. Fabio Borini deserves some praise for his constant graft which allowed Van Aanholt to be more expansive. If he can start chipping in with a few more goals then i believe we’ll be close to seeing the Borini that we had here a couple of seasons ago.
At the other end of the pitch, the partnership of Wes Brown and John O’Shea again looked solid. Neither player could really be faulted for either Swansea goal and as they tired in the second half, the veteran centre halfs looked calm and in control. The same can’t really be said for Vito Mannone though who struggled to silence the supporters calling for Jordan Pickford to be handed a Premier League start. The Italian’s blushes were spared by the offside flag after parrying the ball to Angel Rangel after Gylfi Sigurdsson’s shot deflected on it’s way through.
It was a night in which Jermain Defoe further proved his importance to Sunderland though, giving us all the confidence that as long as we have him we have a good chance of staying up. His first and third may have been poachers efforts but the way he bent his run and beat the offside trap for his second was fantastic. Adam Johnson made amends for missing a sitter in the first half by playing Defoe clean through who only needed one touch to beat Lukasz Fabianski. The fact that he only needed on touch was the sign of a true marksman in great form.
So it’s now onto Spurs and a game where anything is a bonus before another six pointer against Bournemouth. If 38 points is to be enough to stay up then we need six wins and two draws. If we can keep up our decent form against the more “beatable” sides then we have every reason to feel confident. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?