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Sunderland AFC v burnley (h) F.A. CUP THIRD ROUND...
match report

Sunderland drew 0-0 with Burnley in the FA Cup. The cup replay will take place between Stoke and West Brom on 17 January; the last thing Sunderland really needed was another fixture.

The magic of the FA Cup. Romantics will tell you about watching 'The Road to Wembley', praise the inclusion of semi-professional sides in the draw, and laud the heroics of 1973 cup-winning side. Realists, however, will tell you that the magic of the FA Cup is a myth, or at least an energy of a bygone era, before the Premier League became so lucrative that other competitions took the back seat, certainly in the mind of managers and the fans - if weakened team selections and lower attendances are anything to go by, anyway. The team:

Mannone
Manquillo, Djilobodji, Denayer, PvA,
Love, Rodwell, Larsson
Borini, Defoe, Januzaj

Despite many expecting (and some hoping) for a weakened side to be named, Sunderland lined up with a number of first teamers, including the wanted man Jermain Defoe. West Ham’s insulting £6m bid for the danger man was appropriately rejected by Sunderland this week, and with Moyes insistent that Jermain won’t be sold, some fans were left questioning whether he should have been starting in a cup game. Having said that, Moyes could and perhaps should be praised for showing some respect for the most historic domestic cup competition in the world.

Sunderland didn’t start particularly well, with Sam Vokes allowed to break through one-on-one against Mannone after 15 minutes, but the Italian keeper pulled off an excellent save to keep the game level.  

Rodwell looked more imposing than his usual self, and after putting in a decent shift against Liverpool, continued his small purple patch by pinging passes around to either side of the pitch, in spite of the physical pressure being placed on him. He then went close with a long-range shot, testing the keeper from 35 yards but unable to find the target.

Manquillo fudged the best chance of the half, after picking up a pristine through ball from Borini, the on-loan right back had the opportunity to either go for goal himself or simply slide it into the path of Defoe. The cross from Manquilo, however, was rash and inaccurate, sailing over the heads of the encroaching Sunderland players. Wasteful. Billy Jones would have done better.

Half-time arrived without any real football being played. Our late chance was something of a blip in an otherwise pedestrian-paced match that looked to be heading towards a 0-0 draw — a cup replay is something that Sunderland could definitely do without.

Defoe did well to win a free kick after some industrious play from the forward, who must have been feeling cold from the lack of involvement. The set-piece was played to Rodwell who smashed the ball towards goal, forcing a fine save from the Burnley keeper, Nick Pope.

The Sunderland bench was hardly bustling with talent, and it would be ambitious to expect any of the younger lads to inspire a result if introduced. Joel Asoro is a player that is highly rated across football, but considering he isn’t old enough to buy a drink the town centre yet, you couldn’t expect him to come on during a freezing January cup tie and light the game up for Sunderland.
With 10 minutes left, Burnley started to look the more energised of the two sides, probably due to their bench being stronger than ours. There were no Sunderland substitutes up until the 83rd minute when John O’Shea came on for Larsson. A cautious substitution that saw Denayer shift forward into midfield after playing at centre half up until then. Not sure why Moyes wouldn’t give one of the young lads a chance at this stage of the game, especially as a draw would mean a dreaded cup replay sandwiched between West Brom and Stoke.

Unsurprisingly, the game finished level. A really poor display from a patched-up team. Sunderland lacked quality in all areas of the pitch, the only credit being that we managed to keep a clean sheet, but that could probably be attributed to Burnley’s poor performance. Cup replay, then.

Final score: Sunderland 0-0 Burnley
Man of the Match: Jack Rodwell
Chris Thompson

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