Rueful defending and a distinct lack of creativity cost Sunderland three points in a game which they really should have looked to win.
Peter Odemwingie scored the winner in the final ten minutes of a game derived of any real quality, not to say that West Brom didn’t deserve their win.
The home side were the only team who looked like scoring as Peter Odemwingie missed a similar chance to his goal early in the first half. Odemwingie was put straight through on goal in the 81st minute from a pass courtesy of James Morrison which crept past Paulo Da Silva far too easily to set up the winner.
Morrison and Brunt both looked bright with precise passes that troubled the Sunderland defence. Kieran Richardson had a substandard game as Jordon Henderson and Steed Malbranque often had to clear up for the newly converted left-back. If it wasn’t for a solid performance from Titus Bramble in the back line, the score could have been far more embarrassing.
Simon Mignolet once again fluttered at most of the crosses that he attempted to claim. The Belgian wasn’t at fault for the goal, but simultaneously gave off no confidence to an unsettled back four. With the return of Michael Turner from suspension next week, it is likely that the defender will slot straight into Da Silva’s position. Maybe Howard Webb’s conference with the squad might wake the team up as a stable starting line up looks to big an ask for the season ahead given the teams habit for ill-discipline.
Suspensions and injury aside, the truth is that Steve Bruce’s side simply did not look prepared. The team lacked a presence in the centre of the field and up front. Henderson tried to take on the role as play maker but was not up to the task on the day. It wasn’t till Zenden replaced Malbranque in the 66th minute that any crosses made it into the box and by this time West Brom were already starting to apply pressure upfront.
New boy Cristian Riveros was relatively anonymous for the Black Cats, making one decent challenge in the whole game. According to Bruce the Paraguayan needs time to settle in. But so do Carlos Angeleri and Ahmed Al-Muhammady. If they aren’t ‘ready’ for the Premiership now, surely they shouldn’t be relied upon so heavily? Applying Bruce’s theory to the test, Da Silva should be suited to the English game by now having been at the club for a year. The defender looked slow and a shadow of the player that we saw in the World Cup.
Sunderland also lacked a target man as they resorted to route one football in the final stages of the game. Though Bent was winning balls in the air, the Black Cats didn’t look dangerous from corners of which the presence of Kenywne Jones might have caused havoc for the opposition, often drawing in two or three players just to mark him. The link up play between Frazier Campbell and Darren Bent which was evident against Birmingham could have been the difference between the two teams had the latter managed to make the most of a well timed pass through the West Brom defence.
A deflected shot from Richardson and a soft free header from Onouha were the best chances for the visitors. Steve Bruce’s comment for the BBC analysed his team’s poor away record:
“Mentality is what it is, and we have to try to change that if we are going to improve and take the club forward.”
Thanks for clearing that one up Steve. With no intentional disrespect to West Brom, Sunderland should have won this game. It is worrying when the Black Cats’ next six fixtures contain five teams in contention for the top four places in the league that Sunderland have only picked up a point so far. The team clearly haven’t gelled yet and are crying out for a new goalkeeper and striker. Whether Steve Bruce will bring in any more players is yet to be seen, but what’s for sure is the fact that it should be done sooner rather than later. It should have been done before the start of the season.
West Brom Player Ratings:
01. Carson – 7
04. Cech – 7
03. Olsson – 6
30. Tamas – 7
36. Jara – 7
07. Morrison – 6
11. Brunt – 8 (Man of the Match)
14. Thomas – 6 (Barnes – 6)
17. Dorrans – 7 (Reid – 6)
21. Mulumbu – 6 (Shorey – 6)
24. Odemwingie – 7
Sunderland Player Ratings:
22. Mignolet – 5
03. Richardson – 5
14. Da Silva – 6
15. Onouha – 6
19. Bramble – 7
08. Malbranque – 6 (Zenden – 7)
10. Henderson – 6
16. Riveros – 5 (Waghorn – 5)
27. Al-Muhammady – 6 (Welbeck – 6)
09. Campbell – 6
11. Bent – 6
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