Six things we learned from Sunderland's defeat at Man City
Sunderland's status as a Premier League side is looking bleak after a bruising weekend of results.
The Black Cats were beaten 2-0 by Manchester City and coupled with wins for Swansea City, Leicester City and Crystal Palace it leaves Sunderland six points adrift.
Here’s what we learned from the City defeat:
1. If Sunderland are to survive, this would be THE greatest escape
Sunderland’s Premier League position is perilous with little to suggest it is going to turn around anytime soon.
The Black Cats now find themselves six points adrift, seven if you include the goal difference which is now -26.
History shows you cannot write off the Black Cats but this will be their best recovery to date if David Moyes can somehow inspire a huge turnaround in fortunes.
2. Played well first half but didn’t make their pressure count. Again
Similar to the Southampton game, Sunderland started really well and should have gone in front – Jermain Defoe hit the post, Billy Jones twice nodded wide and Fabio Borini missed a good chance with his head.
It was a bright start, with the hardworking Black Cats squeezing City and closing them down high up the pitch - not letting them play out. It led to Yaya Toure moving further up the pitch.
Sunderland did well but ultimately they didn’t take their chances. And City are ruthless.
3. Same again!
Sunderland were unchanged for the first time this season
Wahbi Khazri and George Honeyman were pushing for a start but there was no place on the bench for Lynden Gooch who was replaced by the fit-again Jack Rodwell.
Despite calls to change the side, it proved the right decision after a very encouraging first-half display.
Ultimately, Sunderland didn’t have the legs to maintain their pressing game, with City dominating the second half.
4. Conceding in the final five minutes of the half again
How many times! In recent weeks, Vokes for Burnley, Gabbiadini for Southampton, Gueye for Everton and now Aguero for City have all scored in the five minutes before half-time.
It has become a major problem for the Black Cats. It undermined all the good work in the first half.
Credit to Aguero for the run and anticipation after stealing half a yard on Kone. But Sunderland simply must up their concentration levels to stamp it out.
5. Right decision not to rush back Jan Kirchhoff
Kirchhoff, who has been out of action since December, won’t have proved the difference against Manchester City. Moyes made the right call to rest him ahead of a frantic April.
Sunderland face a daunting April, with games against Watford, Leicester City, Manchester United, West Ham United, Arsenal and Bournemouth - with the Boro game to rearrange too.
He has been a huge miss but the decision not to rush him back is the right one.
6. Jordan Pickford showed his class against suitors Manchester City
The Sunderland stopper will be in demand this summer, with City among a host of clubs keeping close tabs on him.
He looked rusty against Everton but against City he was far more composed, making some important saves second half to keep the scoreline down.
City could have run away with it second half but Pickford kept them at bay.