A gritty display saw Sunderland move off the bottom of the league thanks to a 1 – 0 victory over Watford at the SOL on Saturday. A second half Patrick van Aanholt strike was enough to separate the sides in what was a pretty unspectacular affair played out in bitterly cold conditions.
Sunderland went into the game rocked by another huge injury blow with the news that Jan Kirchhoff suffered knee ligament damage in the game against Chelsea on Wednesday. David Moyes confirmed in his pre match press conference that there is no time frame on the German’s return who joins Duncan Watmore, Lee Cattermole and Lynden Gooch as long term absentees.
Moyes was also downcast on the news that he would have little or no money to improve the squad in January hinting that he would have not taken the Sunderland job had he known the extent of the financial woes. It seems that we are so skint that even a loan signing is not an option unless some wages are freed up with some sales so speculation over the futures of Kone and Pickford is only set to increase whilst it seems likely that Khazri will be on his way also as Moyes clearly doesn’t fancy him.
Moyes made several three changes to the side that lost against Chelsea with Love, N’Dong and Anichebe returning at the expense of Jones, O’Shea and Larsson. There was a minute’s silence prior to kick off for supporters and former players who have passed away before we got underway and Jordan Pickford again showed his class early on to deny the visitors with a spectacular save.
After five minutes a flag was unveiled to support little Bradley Lowery in his fight against cancer which was received with a standing ovation from the crowd. On the pitch little was happening with both teams cancelling each other out although the visitors almost took the lead when a shot was deflected across the six yard box. From the resulting corner Britos headed towards goal but was off target before Watford were forced into an early change with Kabasele replacing Prodl.
Adnan Januzaj picked up a booking for an innocuous challenge before the break and then Anichebe was penalised for a challenge on Kabasele which saw the defender rolling around on the floor clutching his face despite not being touched. Cheat.
Neither side made any changes at the break but David Moyes’ side took the lead five minutes after the restart thanks to another well taken goal by van Aanholt. Sunderland broke swiftly with Januzaj playing in Jermain Defoe down the right hand flank with the forward opting to cut the ball back rather than shoot from an acute angle. Van Aanholt did well to control the pass on the turn with his first touch before swivelling and finding the back of the net via the inside of the post.
The opening goal sprung Sunderland into life and Moyes’ side started to control the game but couldn’t add to their lead despite Anichebe volleying over from the edge of the box. Defoe then almost weaved his way in on goal but despite a clever nutmeg the ball was cleared before Anichebe fired another shot just wide of the mark from the edge of the area. The powerful front man struck the ball well but was unfortunate to see his shot fly off target with Gomez well beaten.
At the other end Watford brought on Success for Zuniga and the tricky winger caused a few problems and Troy Deeney was guilty of wasting an opportunity heading wide unmarked. Former Sunderland defender Younes Kaboul picked up a booking for barging over Januzaj before being replaced by former Newcastle defender Daryl Janmaat. Moyes reacted with a defensive change with ten minutes to go bringing on John O’Shea for Adnan Januzaj as Sunderland looked to hold on for the win.
Although it proved to be a correct decision it looked like a strange substitution at the time as Watford were not causing us any problems and the change invited pressure from the visitors. They almost equalised with five minutes to go after Holebas drove an effort goal wards before Pickford was again called into action to deny a volley from Janmaat before gathering low at the feet of Ighalo.
There was five minutes of injury time which saw Love add to our injury woes and limp off with Larsson replacing him before Djilobodji was penalised for handball on the edge of the box. Watford failed to capitalise on the set piece firing the shot well over the bar and the lads held on for the precious three points.
Final Score: Sunderland 1 Watford 0
ALS Man of the Match: Didier N’Dong
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