THE FINAL third has been the elusive final piece of the jigsaw for Sunderland so far this season.
While the two goals conceded by the Black Cats in Tuesday’s Capital One Cup defeat to Stoke were both poor, Gus Poyet’s side have generally been solid enough defensively.
But, going forward, Sunderland have lacked the fluency, reliability in their ball retention and attacking dynamism to put opposition sides on the back foot.
It’s the principal reason why Sunderland head into tomorrow’s visit of Swansea still without a Premier League victory to their name.
And head coach Poyet admits it’s a problem which he has spoken with his players about.
He told the Echo: “We’ve been talking a little bit and it’s a bit of a mix of keeping working and getting the players to show their quality.
“Sometimes you’ve got a free-kick taker who needs three or four to score one, and you’ve got another who takes two. That’s quality.
“That’s what we’re missing.
“There were situations at Burnley in the last third when we had the chance to play two v one, but we shot. Or the one we passed, we didn’t control it.
“To make a comparison, the break from Chelsea last weekend, every single touch was right for the goal to happen – the pass, the turn, the third touch, the run.
“Everything was perfect to score.
“We need that.
“At the moment, somebody is not having that perfect touch.”
Poyet believes the shortcoming stems from too many players within Sunderland’s ranks struggling to hit top form in the same 90 minutes.
“You can carry one, but you can’t carry four or five in the same game,” he added. “You need to be very good at a group.
“We all need to be at a certain level to make that difference.”
Poyet’s attacking options will be boosted tomorrow by the return to fitness of strikers Connor Wickham and Steven Fletcher, who both missed the Stoke game through knocks.
Emanuele Giaccherini should also be available after suffering an ankle injury in the goalless draw at Burnley last weekend.
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