Adnan Januzaj injury opens door for Wahbi Khazri to recapture his Sunderland form
When one door closes, another one opens.
Or so they say.
Luckless Sunderland’s run of bad fortune continued this week after Manchester United loanee Adnan Januzaj was ruled out after injuring his ankle in the heartbreaking late defeat to Crystal Palace.
It is fair to say the 21-year-old Belgian international hasn’t set the world on fire since arriving on Wearside with a point to prove.
Six Premier League starts are yet to yield a goal from the talented winger, with his performance against Palace leaving much to be desired.
He did score a stunning late goal against Shrewsbury Town.
But that aside, he is yet to shine for David Moyes’ side.
That said, in a side devoid of much - if any creativity - Januzaj is still capable of producing that little bit of magic that can turn a game in Sunderland’s favour.
He has talent. No question. But many fans have questioned his attitude since he arrived in the North East.
Personally, I think his six-week enforced absence is a big blow to Sunderland, who have been hit with injury after injury this season.
I said as much on Twitter.
Turns out not many fans on social media, that follow me, agreed.
To give you a small flavour, these were some of the highlights:
“Probably more of a blow if he actually created something. Been far too passive and predictable,” tweeted @GoalMouth.
Chris Muir added: “Complete waste of a transfer,” while another added: “Been a huge disappointment. Offered nothing, created very little.”
Chris Laws said: “Too much of luxury player for our current plight. Won’t put the hard work in.”
More than one fan asked whether I’d actually seen him play.
Andy tweeted: “Khazri actually does something with his creativity, though. Januzaj just doesn’t.”
And therein lies much of the frustration for Sunderland fans. The demise of Khazri, who has been axed to the bench this season, has been surprising.
Yet to make a league start, Khazri has become an outcast under Moyes.
There have been questions over his workrate and ability to keep hold of the ball, with the likes of Duncan Watmore and Lynden Gooch providing the Sunderland side with more energy.
Sunderland, though, have missed Khazri’s touch of guile and class. Not to mention his ability from set pieces.
Sunderland’s free-kicks and corners have so far been nothing short of dismal, with the rest of the Sunderland squad seemingly unable to clear the first man.
Khazri’s delivery from set pieces is superb.
With Steven Pienaar going off injured against Palace and Januzaj now out, Moyes looks set to make at least two changes for the visit of West Brom.
Duncan Watmore is a likely starter but will Moyes go with Gooch or bring Khazri back into the fold?
The door has closed on Januzaj for the next six weeks.
But with that, another one opens.
Over to you Khazri.