George Honeyman can be trusted but Borini fluffs lines: what we learned from Sunderland’s FA Cup exit

George Honeyman
George Honeyman
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Sunderland fell to a 2-0 defeat in the FA Cup third round replay at Turf Moor. Sam Vokes and Andre Gray were on target for the hosts, the Black Cats struggling to offer much threat in attack. There was a new system for Sunderland and some youth blooded, so here’s a snap summary…

1 New system, same deficiencies: Moyes changed the system but the lack of an excellent ball-player in midfield or a target man up front remained clear.

Fabio Borini

Fabio Borini

Seb Larsson moved the ball as well as anyone in the team, the Black Cats looking best when he took control of possession.

Yet again, however, the ball was gifted back to Burnley repeatedly either through slack short passes or aimless balls lumped forward under pressure.

Vito Mannone and the Sunderland defence struggled with their distribution but in mitigation, there was no one high up the field who could be relied on to compete in the air.

Sunderland never looked like scoring.

2 Fabio Borini: Moyes inevitably and understandably didn’t risk Jermain Defoe from the start, but he was on the pitch by the hour mark. Part of that was in order to take Donald Love out of the action; the stand-in midfielder on the verge of a red card throughout the second half.

It was also, however, recognition that Sunderland’s new look front-line never looked like beating Nick Pope in goal.

Fabio Borini got a big chance to play through the middle and while he was industrious and pressed on occasions, it was all too easy for the Burnley defence.

Borini returned to the midfield when Defoe arrived and is unlikely to move into the middle for the trip to West Brom.

3 George Honeyman: Debate has been lively, to say the least, regarding Sunderland’s youngsters in the last week or so.

Moyes has taken his fair share of flak for not throwing them in and while this selection again largely favoured experience, he did give George Honeyman a chance to impress in the middle of the park.

The end result was solid if not spectacular.

Honeyman started brightly, looking composed on the ball and keeping it as simple as possible with quick, precise passes.

He had his part in Sunderland’s best move of the first half, playing a smart 1-2 with Patrick van Aanholt. Fabio Borini just couldn’t quite get the shot away after gathering the cross.

Honeyman’s influence faded as the game went on, even if he continued to bustle from box-to-box. Showed he can be trusted but didn’t inject major quality.