Sunderland AFC analysis: Back at the bottom and with it all to do again

Seb Larsson in action for Sunderland
Seb Larsson in action for Sunderland
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Back at the bottom and with it all to do again.

That is where Sunderland are after losing this basement battle 3-0 at relegation rivals Swansea City and Hull City clinched a point against Crystal Palace.

The Black Cats began the day in good heart and with confidence quite high and with some justification after a run of three wins in the last four matches.

But four minutes of madness would cost them and cost them dearly, conceding a penalty, emphatically put away by Gylfi Sigurdsson, whose low corner was tucked away by Fernando Llorente.

With over half an hour left, there was still time for David Moyes’ side, but a second from the Spanish striker 10 minutes from time put the seal on the win for Bob Bradley’s Swans who leapfrogged the Cats.

Sunderland had looked pretty comfortable in the first 45 minutes at the Liberty Stadium and it will be that which makes a three-goal set-back all the more galling for their manager.

They had the better play, Jermain Defoe having the pick of the chances fizzing a shot just over after being found by Victor Anichebe from Jordan Pickford’s great long pass.

It was the same soon after the break, Pickford launching the move which saw Patrick van Aanholt set up Defoe who curled his shot wide.

The turning point arrived within two minutes and thereafter it was back to the bleaker days, Sunderland showing little cohesion with Swansea the more likely scorers.

Papy Djilobodji and Anichebe tried to inspire their colleagues.

The defender launched one good attack no-one could get on the end of and went close with a late header.

Anichebe, again Sunderland’s star turn, found Defoe who dragged his shot well wide and won an attacking free-kick which van Aanholt, not for the first time this season, could only hit into the wall.

Those moments aside, there was little encouragement.

Sunderland threw on Adnan Januzaj at 1-0 but he looked a player still finding his way back.

Moyes was prepared to throw the dice with Fabio Borini at two down but with the Italian in the technical area ready to enter the fray, the third goal was headed in by Llorente and he was sent back to the bench.

There were few positives. Pickford did produce two stunning second-half saves to prevent the scoreline from getting worse, Djilobodji had another good game in defence as did Anichebe up top.

It’s title favourites Chelsea next and there will have to be at least one change after Didier Ndong was booked for the fifth time this season and he will sit out Wednesday’s game.

One change vital to the Black Cats must be their mentality - if they go behind, they cannot react as they did against their relegation rivals.