Wrong team selection costs Sunderland plus five other things learned from Watford defeat

It was April Fools' Day on Saturday but Sunderland's latest defeat was no laughing matter as they took a further step towards Championship football.

Sunday, 2nd April 2017, 10:39 am
Updated Saturday, 8th April 2017, 9:30 pm
Jack Rodwell

Defeat to Watford, coupled with victories for relegation rivals Hull City, Leicester City and Crystal Palace made it a dismal day at Vicarage Road.

Here's what we learned from the defeat:

Jason Denayer takes a tumble

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Writing is on the wall:

The writing is on the wall and the fat lady is warming up her vocal chords; Sunderland's 10-year Premier League stint is coming to an end.

Under-fire David Moyes remained defiant Sunderland can survive but confidence levels of Sunderland pulling off another great escape ebb with every passing week.

Sunderland are dropping points while their rivals are picking them up - a combination that will only end with one outcome, relegation.

John O'Shea wins a header

A quick glance at the history books is a reminder never to write Sunderland off too soon but it is hard to see where those six - possibly more - wins needed will come from.

Moyes got his team selection wrong:

With Lee Cattermole only just back from a six-month spell out, it was no real surprise to see him on the bench alongside ever-present sub Wahbi Khazri.

But the sight of Didier Ndong again amongst the subs was met with indignation from supporters.

Jason Denayer takes a tumble

Selection was based on getting the balance right against a physical Watford side but Sunderland's midfield is one-paced and pedestrian enough without taking out one of the players who provides real energy, pace and drive.

Granted, Ndong is not known for his goals or assists but he showed what he does offer when he eventually came on; providing a spark and helping push the team forward.

Sunderland their own worst enemies:

Time and time again the Sunderland players chose the wrong pass or made the wrong run, with Watford looking far more dangerous on the counter-attack.

John O'Shea wins a header

Clear chances were few and far between, Fabio Borini and Adnan Januzaj, especially, should have done better.

David Moyes picks the team but the Sunderland players don't help themselves with their decision making, quality in possession and passing.

The workrate and effort was there, the quality levels needed to stay up are lacking.

Makeshift Watford defence should have been tested more:

The Hornets were without key defender Sebastian Prodl - on the bench after a calf problem - while Younes Kaboul went off with a hamstring in the first half.

Sunderland should have tested the makeshift defence far more. At the other end, their talisman Troy Deeney was on the bench after suffering with illness.

It was a good time to play Watford yet Sunderland failed to test them.

Jordan Pickford destined for greatness:

The stopper was one of the few to be applauded at the end and rightly so after another superb shift.

Without him, Sunderland would have been on the end of a heavy defeat. He made three excellent saves first half and an important block after the break.

Ultimately, he ended up on the end of another defeat but no blame can be attached to him this season. A big move no doubt awaits this summer.

Sunderland support deserve better:

Bottom of the table and heading for the Championship unless they can spark a monumental turnaround, there is little to cheer for Sunderland fans.

Yet time and time again they come out in force to back their team. The sold-out away end, the twelfth occassion this season they have sold out on the road, sang non-stop.

The fans don't expect or want praise, they do it for the love of their club but their ongoing support - home and away - deserves recognition for the dross they have had to endure this season.