Sunderland ground out a frustrating 0-0 draw with West Brom where we created a hatful of chances but couldn't finish any. We take a look at what we learned at the Stadium of Light.
We Can Create Chances
Let's start with the positives, of which there were few. Sunderland did create a lot of chances throughout the game, and messrs Defoe, Cattermole, Borini, and van Aanholt could all have got on the scoresheet. We had 22 attempts, more than in any other game this season, and more than Chelsea, Man City, or Arsenal fashioned as they all won 4-0. But for a flick of Defoe's head or a bit more awareness from Cattermole, we'd have been leaving the Stadium of Light a lot happier. Ben Foster also pulled off a number of impressive saves, but we showed that we were able to open up the West Brom defence.
Three DMs Doesn't Work
Kirchhoff, Cattermole, and M'Vila make for an imposing midfield trio, but there's no attacking impetus at all. Cattermole did very little wrong today - he actually put in quite an impressive performance - but a side in our position can't afford to set up with a negative outlook. At this stage of the season, considering our league position, we need to go for three points more often. A game against a West Brom side that wasn't playing with 100% interest was a perfect opportunity. Surely Rodwell could have made a difference after his impressive performance against Newcastle? And what's happened to Lens in recent weeks?
Sam's Subs Continue to Baffle
Allardyce has faced criticism for his changes in the last two games, against Southampton and Newcastle, which arguably led to us dropping four points. Perhaps fearful of a similar blunder today, he waited until eight minutes before the end to make his only change, replacing Wahbi Khazri with Dame N'Doye, who continues to do his best impression of a brick wall on a weekly basis. No attempt was made to change the game or really grab West Brom by the throat. Week after week, fans are left with the impression that Allardyce doesn't know how to get the best out of the players on the bench.
We're Slipping Away - But It's Not Over Yet
A few eyes and ears were paying attention to developments over at Carrow Road, where the game swung back and forth before Norwich won it late on. For once, a late winner against the Mags was not something we celebrated. We're now four points behind Norwich, but we do have a game in hand and we still have to play them. Things look grimmer than they did at 3pm this afternoon, but our fate remains in our own hands. Although they've been frustrating, recent games have shown us that we're very nearly a complete side. We have the ability to win games, but we have failed to turn that ability into wins. If we keep it up, we just might have what it takes to stay up.
And at least we're not in the Mags' position.