Sunderland appear doomed at the foot of the Premier League table after failing to beat Burnley the team with the worst record away in the league at the SOL on Saturday. David Moyes’ side had the best of the chances of the game but Sean Dyche’s side held on for a goalless draw which sees Sunderland now seven points adrift from safety.
Sunderland were rocked by more injury news in the week when it was revealed Jan Kirchhoff has been ruled out for at least a further four weeks whilst Lee Cattermole and Victor Anichebe are still a few weeks away from a return. Moyes hoped to have Darron Gibson available who was suffering with a knock whilst the visitors were buoyed by the news that instrumental midfielder Steven Defour was close to a return.
There was some good news for Sunderland when Jermaine Defoe was eventually rewarded for his form and goal scoring exploits earning a recall to the England side – let’s just hope he returns in one piece.
Having not played last weekend due to Middlesbrough’s involvement in the FA Cup Moyes made two changes from the side that was beaten by Manchester City a fortnight ago. One was enforced with Lamine Kone ruled out through injury and he was replaced by Jason Denayer whilst a tactical decision saw Seb Larsson replace Didier N’Dong in the midfield. Burnley headed to Wearside having only taken two points away from home all season but they beat us convincingly in the league at Turf Moor and knocked us out of the FA Cup after a replay.
We got the game underway kicking unusually towards the North stand in the first half and although Defoe almost nipped in after a ball over the top it was the visitors who went close first with Pickford out to deny Ashley Barnes after he had got past Denayer. At the other end Larsson tried his luck from range which was blocked and fell to Rodwell who sliced a shot wide.
Burnley were the side out of the blocks quicker in the opening stages with Sunderland starting with an odd midfield shape with Larsson looking lost on the left of a midfield three. The visitors had long spells on the ball without providing a cutting edge with Andre Gray being closely marshalled by Denayer and O’Shea.
After twenty minutes Sunderland tried to break quickly after Pickford thwarted a Burnley attack and threw the ball for Januzaj to drive forward but the winger was upended on the half way line by Joey Barton who was booked. Burnley had a shout for a penalty when Gibson and Rodwell both lunged and managed to block a Burnley shot in the box whilst at the other end Gibson went close for Sunderland when he whipped a cross just over the bar after Larsson rolled a corner to him on the end of the box.
Burnley somehow failed to score before the break when Arfield cut inside and fired across goal which looked destined for Ashley Barnes to tap in but instead of the ball nestling in the net it crashed off the advertising boards.
Neither side made any changes at the break but Sunderland started the second half a lot better and really should have taken the lead when Fabio Borini was played clean through on goal but the Italian fired a tame shot straight at Tom Heaton in the Burnley goal. Sunderland were well on top in this period with Januzaj forcing Heaton into a save before the ball was eventually clipped back into the box with Larsson blazing a half volley over the bar.
Sunderland’s best chance of the game came with half an hour remaining after Larsson swung in a cross from the right hand side which dropped kindly for Jones who nodded a diving header wide. It looked easier for the defender to score at the back post but he managed to neither find the net or the outstretching Defoe with his wayward header. The chances continued to come for Sunderland with Januzaj finding space on the edge of the box but his low shot was a foot wide of the post.
We made a couple of changes late in the game as Moyes went in search of all three points first Gibson, who had picked up a yellow card, was replaced by N’Dong before ten minutes later Khazri replaced Seb Larsson to loud cheers. Khazri almost had an immediate impact slipping a low ball into Defoe which Heaton did well to come out and smother.
As the full time whistle approached and the fourth official signalling a paltry three minutes injury time the visitors sensed they might snatch their first away league win of the season and they almost did when a mistake by Denayer allowed in substitute Sam Vokes but he was expertly denied by a strong low hand from Jordan Pickford.
At the other end there was still time for a final Sunderland chance when Fabio Borini found space inside the box but his low left foot shot was saved by Heaton and cleared for a corner. Khazri whipped the corner into the front post for a Burnley head to clear and a lack of urgency from Sunderland for the final moments meant the throw in was wasted and the points shared.
Final Score: Sunderland 0 Burnley 0
ALS Man of the Match: Jason Denayer
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