The Wolves – Sunderland match was high on endeavour but it did not rate highly on the skill scale. Each teams passing percentage was far from impressive with Wolves 72% and Sunderland 71%.
The passing of Wolves’ Matt Jarvis and Sunderland’s Stephane Sessegnon stood out like intelligent comments at a Republican Presidential debate.
Wolves default attacking option for most of this season has been crosses into the penalty area – so it was in this game.
Going back through the teams that Martin O’Neill has managed such as Leicester, Celtic and Aston Villa you see a definite template. He often strings centre backs across the back four, he likes big forwards and often talent is sacrificed for work rate.
Set plays are emphasized and at the back and in attack O’Neill’s sides have been strong in the air. Indications from this match are that Sunderland are lacking the raw material that O’Neill usually builds from.
Wolves dominated aerial challenges winning 27 of 35.
Christophe Berra the Wolves centre back won every one of the 10 challenges he made in the air.
Nicklas Bendtner (on loan from Arsenal) is a player who will come in for some special attention from O’Neill. Bendtner is big but plays small and although he has become an extremely important player for Denmark his inconsistency and often lackadaisical attitude drove Arsenal fans to distraction and no doubt many Sunderland fans are feeling the same way.
He offered no option in the air although he enjoyed a considerable height advantage over both Berra and Jody Craddock, the Wolves centre backs.
On the positive side he was involved in the lead up to Richardson’s goal and for a striker his passing statistics were acceptable for a striker.
Caretaker boss Eric Black started Bendtner and Ji Dong Won in attack but rarely did the two show signs of meshing. Both dropped deep – often at the same time – and too often they seemed to be looking for the same ball.
A look at Sunderland’s record this season shows only two wins in 14 games. It also shows 5 draws and 7 losses. What it doesn’t show is that each loss this season has been by a single goal. That tells us that a slight improvement in some key areas might see a rapid improvement in Sunderland’s position.
Although O’Neill might be tempted to start his organization from the back Sunderland have only allowed 17 goals this season. If the former Villa and Celtic boss is looking for a quick turnaround he might put his emphasis at the attacking end of the field.
Sunderland actually had more shots on target than Wolves 9 to 5 although two came from Bendtner and Ji Dong Won.
You can also find other Soccer Report Extra.com contributors on Twitter by following this link.
Please refrain from posting comments that;
The House reserves the right to delete any such comments and to block further participation on the site.