Against Blackpool, for the fourth game in a row, Sunderland played without a striker in the squad. With a second successive 0-0 draw, fans are starting to wonder where the goals are going to come from.
Injuries to Ross Stewart and Ellis Simms has left the Black Cats light in the final third, adding even more pressure on the athletic, nimble players Sunderland have such as Patrick Roberts, Jack Clarke and Alex Pritchard.
In the convincing 0-3 win over Reading, Sunderland scored three fantastic counter attacking goals, playing a very odd variation of 5-2-3 in which the front three consisted of a false nine and two classic ‘number 8’s’. Patrick Roberts’ double and Jack Clarke’s superb winner added gloss to a brilliant away performance. Sunderland fans began to wonder whether they even needed a striker!
Sunderland’s exciting attacking players were at it once again in Hertfordshire as they played out a 2-2 draw against Watford. Young signings Abdoullah Ba, Amad Diallo and Jewison Bennette added pace, agility and skill in the last 20 minutes which allowed the Mackems to claim another vital point on the road.
However, it hasn’t been as plain sailing in the two games that have followed the international break. Two consecutive 0-0 draws against Preston North End and Blackpool has reduced the optimism on Wearside as a lack of a focal point has proved to be an issue.
Against Preston, Sunderland struggled to play through Preston’s solid defence and without a target to hit up front, were left stuck between game plans. Ross Stewart and Ellis Simms would both have been drooling at some of the chances created in Saturday’s game and would have been as frustrated as the Stadium of Light faithful were to see that none of the chances were put away.
A 0-0 draw in a game which Sunderland dominated left manager Tony Mowbray disappointed after the whistle.
Speaking to safc.com, Mowbray said:
“I’m left frustrated that we never scored a goal today, we got into enough good areas.”
The Head Coach changed things up against Blackpool on Tuesday night, bringing in Amad Diallo to the starting eleven and playing Jack Clarke in a more advanced role, freeing up Alex Pritchard in the centre of the pitch.
Again, Sunderland created enough good opportunities to win the game – Amad Diallo and Clarke both went very close, and Patrick Roberts created a few good openings for himself – but it wasn’t to be as they had to settle for just another point.
With neither Ellis Simms nor Ross ‘The Lochness Drogba’ Stewart close to returning to action, Sunderland are going to have to find a way to find the back of the net on Saturday, as they look to make it their first win in four in South Wales against Russell Martin’s Swansea City side.