A shocking display from David Moyes’ depleted Sunderland side saw Stoke City run out comfortable 3-1 winners at the SOL on Saturday. All of the action came in the first half with a brace from Marko Arnautovic and a Peter Crouch header compounding a miserable opening thirty five minutes for the lads who nabbed a consolation from Jermain Defoe. The pathetic performance and results elsewhere sees Sunderland slip further down the table to nineteenth in the table and staring relegation in the face.
After the goalless draw with Burnley in the FA Cup last weekend Sunderland welcomed Stoke to Wearside in the league as David Moyes side looked to continue their decent home form. Despite the precarious position in the table Sunderland have lost only one of their last five home games winning three and drawing one. Mark Hughes side headed north having being knocked out of the FA Cup by Wolves with Hughes demanding a reaction from his side at the SOL.
Sunderland went in to the game missing trio Lamine Kone, Didier N’Dong and Wahbi Khazri who are on international duty at the African Cup of Nations. The game also came too soon for Steven Pienaar and Victor Anichebe although there was some good news on the injury front with Billy Jones nearing a return to fitness. Stoke were missing three players also due to the ACON with Ramadan Sobhi, Wilfred Bony and Mame Biram Diouf all away on international duty.
Moyes made one change to the side that started against Burnley in the FA Cup with John O’Shea replacing Javier Manquillo. There was a tribute to former England manager Graham Taylor who died during the week before the visitors got the game underway and it was a scrappy opening with both sides making fouls.
Stoke got to grips with the game better and had the first effort on goal which Crouch headed wide before they took the lead inside fifteen minutes. Arnautovic got in down the left hand side behind Donald Love and tried to steer the ball past Mannone which the Italian blocked with his foot only for the rebound to be fired straight back past him by the Austrian to give Hughes side the lead.
In our last league meeting at the SOL against Liverpool David Moyes’ side reacted well to going behind but today was totally different with the lads all over the place. Stoke doubled their lead five minutes later again through Arnautovic who was set up by Crouch to blast the ball past Mannone.
Sunderland almost conceded a third soon after when Mannone haplessly fumbled a weak shot from Shaqiri with the Italian fortunate that the ball rolled out for a corner rather than into the back of the net. This fortune was short lived though as Stoke soon had a third when Charlie Adam swung a high ball into the box which Mannone tried to catch but could not as Peter Crouch nodded it into an empty net.
It was a disastrous opening for Sunderland with too many players not at it whilst others looked disinterested. It was five minutes before half time until Sunderland had an effort on goal but Rodwell's shot was blocked. We did get a goal before the break when Defoe latched onto Love’s forward ball and clinically tucked the ball into the bottom corner.
Neither side made any changes at the break and Sunderland did fare better in the second half but this was down to two reasons. Firstly they couldn’t do any worse and secondly Stoke seemed content with their lead and appeared to take their foot off the gas. Borini had an early chance which the keeper parried away before Jack Rodwell missed a gilt edge chance skewing the ball wide from a great position.
Sunderland kept plugging away but were woefully short of quality and having named one of the weakest looking benches in recent memory for Sunderland Moyes had no one to turn to. The fact he didn’t make any changes appeared to be another message to Ellis Short that he needs reinforcements in and fast.
The game went a bit niggly with Stoke’s players happy to disrupt the flow of the game going down injured and Djilibodji was booked after clattering Arnautovic. Sunderland managed another effort from a corner which Denayer headed over but the game was long gone. It was an abysmal performance in a game where we really needed to be taking maximum points.
Final Score: Sunderland 1 Stoke City 3
ALS Man of the Match: Jermain Defoe
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