Sunderland won 2-1 away at Bournemouth in a game where Victor Anichebe dominated proceedings with his size and strength, cancelling out Bournemouth’s early goal and then winning a penalty in the second half, which was converted by Defoe. Our first win of the campaign and it feels incredible.
Sunderland and David Moyes found themselves in despair after officially making the worst start to a Premier League season in history - even worse than the two low points seasons. The named starting XI did nothing to lift the spirits of supporters.
Jones Djilobodji Kone PvA
Watmore NDong Pienaar McNair
In Anichebe’s first Premier League start, Paddy McNair started on the left wing with Watmore on the right. Young Duncan was preferred to Khazri, whose performance against Arsenal divided opinion; some supporters thought he was shite, while others praised at least his effort to make things happen.
Bournemouth’s first set piece was fudged and resulted in a promising-looking counter-attack for Sunderland. Paddy McNair, who started on the left-hand side, was hacked down on the half-way line, though, which prompted the referee to show his first yellow card of the game after the cynical foul.
Sunderland fans were in fine voice, despite making a 350-mile trip on what must have been the pissiest, most miserable day of the year. Unfortunately their staunch loyalty was rewarded with nothing more than typical Sunderland defending.
GOAL - Bournemouth - Gosling - 10 mins
Jack Wilshere was given too much space outside the box, and delivered an excellent defence-splitting pass out to the right-hand side of the box. PvA wasn’t tracking his man, so an easy delivery across the face of goal beat both Djilobodji and Kone, finding Gosling for the easy finish from about three yards out.
Sunderland’s only shot on target against Arsenal came from the penalty spot, so you could see why Moyes would want to take a more direct approach against Bournemouth. Conceding a goal prompted a change in shape, however, with McNair moving central and Anichebe moving out to the left-hand side. Bizarre.
Anichebe wasn’t doing badly, though. After being picked out by Pienaar, the big forward held the ball up with enough time to find a spare man, but bournemouth held their shape well and forced Billy Jones to deliver a ball, which was blocked easily. Watmore did manage to break the Bournemouth defence, but his driven ball across the face of goal wasn’t met by anyone; there were no Sunderland players in the box.
Pickford pulled off a great stop to prevent Bournemouth from doubling their lead, palming away a lightning-paced shot from Josh King. The Cherries striker was booked a couple of minutes later for impeding Pickford as he tried to kick the ball from his hands. Sunday League stuff. Then it happened.
GOAL - Sunderland - Anichebe - 33 mins
Big Vic picked up the ball outside the box and used his ox-like strength and Nicki Minaj-like arse to hold off the Bournemouth defence, dodging a challenge and spinning around towards goal. He smashed the ball into the roof of the net and stunned everyone including himself with an absolutely brilliant solo goal.
The sucker punch served to propel Sunderland back into the game, with our defence perched on the half-way line and ousrmidfield putting real pressure on Bournemouth. Defoe cut inside and had his effort blocked, before McNair tried the same but was also denied.
We nearly went 2-1 up after a great counter-attack culminated in Jones sending a cross into the box towards Watmore. The young winger finished well, but was about four yards offside and so the goal was correctly ruled out.
Sunderland went in at half-time looking the stronger of the two sides, which was remarkable given how poor they looked during the early spells. With Pickford between the sticks, we maintained a defensive edge that was sacrificed by naming Kone and Djilobodji together in the starting XI, a central defensive partnership that is about as comforting as approaching an unexploded firework.
The restart was hindered by Paddy McNair, who after grafting hard in the first half, looked to have pulled something after overstretching to meet a ball he’d nicked in midfield. McNair made a diabolical start to his Sunderland career, but is starting to win supporters over with his work ethic. Luckily, he just needed a rest and was straight back on.
Jones was also impressive, solid at the back and filling in for Kone and Djilobodji went they joined attacks. He was also pinging balls into the box, occasionally matching the runs of Defoe and Anichebe, but unfortunately none were converted. Sunderland were on top, but all that hard work would soon be undone.
Pienaar was booked late in the first half for a petty challenge, and the South African must have known that his fate was sealed after a high challenge just 13 minutes into the second half. The referee showed a red card, and all of the momentum Sunderland were enjoying was instantly simmered.
Bournemouth responded with a flurry of attacks, striking the woodwork and doing their best to breach the bank of white away shirts in front of them. Sunderland dropped so deep that any relief of pressure came through an aimless clearance up the pitch. Whether it was in an effort to sap Bournemouth’s energy and ride the storm, or simply an admission of defeat, Sunderland were as defensive as they have been this season. Denayer eventually came on for McNair at around 70 minutes, and the game changed.
GOAL - Sunderland - Defoe - 73 mins
Victor Anichebe had been a battering ram all game, and his surge into the box could not be neutralised by any man, or arguably any machine. The panicked defender could do nothing but hack big Vic down, and the referee pointed to the spot. Sunderland hadn’t touched the ball for about 10 minutes. Defoe stepped up and scored Sunderland’s 23rd consecutive penalty. 2-1 to the lads with just over a quarter of an hour left.
Bournemouth did not respond well at all, and were allowing Sunderland far too much space in their half of the pitch. They were frustrated and kept making petty fouls, which was fine for us, simply trying to run the clock down. A chance for Afobe aside, Bournemouth did little to trouble Sunderland, who were somehow less defensive than they were at 1-1.
To the credit of Jason Denayer, he filled in excellent for McNair, sweeping across the front of the defence and hoovering up any loose balls. Pickford would be forced to make a fantastic save in the 88th minute, palming a fantastic half-volley over the bar and out for a corner. The resultant set piece was plucked brilliantly out of the sky by the Washy lad.
Five minutes of stoppage time reduced my already pitiful fingernails to mere stumps of soggy skin. The ball was pinging around Sunderland’s box but our defence managed to keep it out of the net. Pickford was screaming at the top of his lungs, trying to arrange his defence. It was the type of stuff that really makes you grateful for a victory, the type of feeling that Sunderland fans haven’t experienced for a long time. Not even a winning feeling, but a feeling of pride.
On the full-time whistle, the Sunderland players and backroom staff celebrated with genuine joy and passion, before going over to the rapturous away support and thanking them, for everything. What a feeling.
Final score: Bournemouth 1-2 Sunderland
ALS Man of the Match: Victor Anichebe, who had the match of his career.
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