If you were having a bet pre-season who would be Sunderland’s second top scorer, the chances are your money wouldn’t have been on Patrick van Aanholt.
But the left-back is currently level on three goals with Victor Anichebe, five behind the main man Jermain Defoe.
Some of the positions he ends up in, I think to myself ‘what are you doing there Pat?’DAVID MOYES
Van Aanholt’s opener this season was in vain, a late consolation strike in the 2-1 derby defeat to Middlesbrough.
But his subsequent strikes have been vital to the Black Cats’ cause.
Sunderland have taken 14 points this season and the flying Dutchman has been responsible for four of them.
He started and then finished the move which brought Sunderland level in a 1-1 draw against West Brom in October.
The 26-year-old then turned up in the box to score the only goal last Saturday, when David Moyes’s team beat Watford 1-0.
Van Aanholt controlled the ball on his right foot before turning and drilling a left-foot strike from six yards, his shot going in off Heurelho Gomes’s right stick.
“Some of the positions he ends up in, I think to myself ‘what are you doing there Pat?’,” laughed Moyes ahead of today’s Premier League trip to Manchester United.
“Then, like last Saturday, he ends up in the middle of the six-yard box and he scores and I think ‘great’.
“It’s a bit like that at times, but he’s got good ability going forward, he’s got a goal in him. He really has, he can get you a goal.
“Some of his finishing is the way of a forward.
“He has great his instincts, like the goal he scored a few weeks ago [against Middlesbrough] when it came off the goalkeeper and he scored the rebound.
“His instinct to turn in the box to find the net against Watford was terrific.”
It was a crucial piece of work from the left-footer, his goal ensuring Sunderland went into Christmas off the bottom.
Moyes is grateful to the Netherlands international that he does have that instinct to attack and score.
He also came within a whisker of grabbing a stunning equaliser against Chelsea, only for Thibaut Courtois to dive to his right and keep out his injury-time shot.
Sunderland, for all they have initiated a recovery in the top flight, have only three scorers, the brilliant Defoe, Anichebe and van Aanholt.
“I was disappointed to hear the stat that he, Jermain and Victor are the only three players who’ve scored for us, so we have to try to alter that, that’s for sure.”