PHIL Bardsley admits Sunderland’s toothlessness in front of goal is costing them dearly.
And he blamed a failure to be strong in attack, rather than a weakness in defence, for costing the Black Cats against Aston Villa yesterday.
“We dominated possession, kept the ball and moved the ball, trying to bring them out and create chances,” he said following the 1-0 defeat which kept the Wearsiders at the bottom of the Premier League table.
“We created chances but again we didn’t convert them, and that has been a banana skin for us this season.
“We chased the game and tried to create opportunities in the second half, and I think Emanuele Giaccherini’s goal might have been onside – so that decision went against us.
“But, at the end of the day, in front of goal, we are just simply not good enough at the minute.”
Yesterday was the ninth time in 20 Premier League games that Sunderland have failed to get on the scoresheet.
And Sunderland’s poverty in attack was underlined by the fact that apart from Giaccherini’s disallowed goal, the Black Cats managed only one other strike on target in the whole game – when Ki Sung-Yueng forced a save out of under-worked keeper Brad Guzan.
It meant that the home side were unable to overturn a 15th-minute goal caused by a combination of Lee Cattermole’s slip and Gaby Agbonlahor’s coolness in front of goal.
And that was hard to take for Bardsley, who feels Villa are not a good Premier League side.
“I don’t think Aston Villa have been as good as they have been in previous years and I thought that when they came to the Stadium of Light we had every chance of winning the game,” he said.
“But you have to take your chances.
“If we had gone ahead, it would have been a totally different game.
“Unfortunately though, we gifted them a goal instead.”
Now that Sunderland’s five-game unbeaten run is over, Bardsley knows that he and his team-mates have to look to go on another run.
But the Villa defeat leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.
“It’s another defeat at home, which is disappointing,” he said.
“The way that we have been playing going into this game, we thought we should have got something out of it, but it wasn’t to be and we are very disappointed.
“Villa sat in and left the two big lads, Gaby Agbonlahor and Christian Benteke, up front.
“We were pushing and pushing, which gave them a few chances where they hit us on the break.
“But when you are at home you’re not going to sit in when you are one down – you need to chase the game and try and get back into it.”
Sunderland will now take a break from the league, with their FA Cup tie third round tie against Carlisle at the Stadium of Light this Sunday, followed by Tuesday’s visit of Manchester United for the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final.
Defender Wes Brown has now completed his three-match suspension and is available for selection again,