Sunderland’s new signings have impressed since being introduced to the first team and the side are slowly looking more and more like a Sam Allardyce outfit. But, has it all come too late?
The defence, bar Billy Jones, is looking tighter and that is mainly due to the arrivals of Lamine Kone and Jan Kirchhoff. At the other end of the field, Wahbi Khazri has impressed the fans as he is willing to run all day long and has a wicked set piece.
Kone has been the major hit with the fans since his introduction to the side against Manchester City. In all truth, Sunderland were unlucky to lose the game 1-0 as they created many chances and reduced City to just a few shots on goal. But back to the Ivory Coast international. The centre-half looked comfortable despite only signing a few days earlier, and has everything you want from a Premier League defender such as strength, aerial presence and pace.
It is not often you see Yaya Toure end up on the floor after a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge, but that is exactly what Kone did to his international team-mate – much to the delight of the Sunderland fans. If there’s one thing us Black Cats fans love, it is crunching tackles and that’s exactly what this defender can offer us.
Another stand out performer of the January signings is Kirchhoff. After his debut against Tottenham, almost every Sunderland fan had written the German off, but how wrong we were. The ex-Bayern Munich man has been much of a rock in Sunderland’s defence/midfield since being brought back into the side. He even managed to pick up man of the match against Man City and had another solid game at Liverpool last weekend in which the Mackems came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2.
Meanwhile, Khazri’s set pieces have been ever so refreshing for Sunderland fans after suffering several seasons watching players struggle to beat the first man off a corner or beat the wall off a free-kick. Khazri must be picked ahead of Jeremain Lens as he will run all day long, whereas the Dutchman spends most of the game looking uninterested unless the ball is at his feet.
Finally, it looks like its going to take N’Doye slightly longer to get up and running again in the Premier League, however it probably doesn’t help playing the striker, who possesses little pace, on the right wing for the majority of the game against Liverpool. He must play alongside Defoe if the duo are to strike up any form of successful partnership. The former England international has been banging in the goals of late but the service has to be right for him to succeed. Too many times we’ve been caught trying to play the long ball to him when really, he thrives off balls to feet or through balls when playing on the defender’s shoulder.
But, is it all too late for Sunderland? The men from Wearside currently sit 19th in the Premier League on a mere 20 points. You have to think 37/38 points would keep you up this season, meaning Allardyce’s troops need to pick up around another 18 points to ensure survival. This is the equivalent of six wins in the last 13 games, but when you look at the fact Sunderland have only won five in 25, is it all too much to ask?