Cats Eye: Is it time for Yann M’Vila to be taken out of Sunderland team?

Yann M'Vila is challenged by Ashley Williams
Yann M'Vila is challenged by Ashley Williams
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Yann M’Vila has been Sunderland’s player of the season.

No question.

So this may seem like a daft question after he helped Sunderland to back-to-back Premier League wins with the victory over Swansea City last night.

But, is it time for Sam Allardyce to give him a rest?

Against Swansea City, the Frenchman – the game’s pantomime villain after Kyle Naughton’s sending off – looked jaded, sluggish and way off the pace in the opening 45 minutes.

M’Vila, on loan from Russian Premier League side Rubin Kazan, was far from his usual self.

Not the marauding midfield man Sunderland fans have grown accustomed to this campaign.

Time and time again in the opening 45 minutes, passes were sent astray, he was also culpable in the build-up to the move that earned the Swans their penalty – albeit a very fortunate one.

He improved after the break, it has to be said, but he hasn’t looked himself recently.

Since signing on a season-long loan in the summer, M’Vila has dominated play in the centre of midfield.

Showing his wonderful range of passing ability, his tough-tackling, commitment, desire and work-rate week in, week out.

But by his own recent admission, he has found the going tough recently with the busy festive programme.

He was rested for the FA Cup tie at the Emirates Stadium but came on in the second half to give Lee Cattermole a breather.

Perhaps, Allardyce needs to give him an extended break from first-team duties to get him back firing.

That may sound harsher than it intends to be – he gives everything for the cause and has done so since joining in the summer.

The 25-year-old has been almost an ever present and is one of the first names on the team sheet.

But it looks like M’Vila, capped 22 times by France, would benefit from a break.

The problem for Big Sam is – who would he rest him for?

There aren’t too many other options are there?

Injury-prone Jack Rodwell? He came on as a sub last night but hasn’t impressed in the chances he has been given.

Ola Toivonen, who hasn’t impressed recently? Jordi Gomez?

Hardly a list that inspires much confidence.

If, however, Allardyce can get the signing of Dame N’Doye over the line, then that will be the two main priorities sorted nice and early.

A new centre back – Jan Kirchhoff – and N’Doye to bolster the Sunderland attack.

Allardyce can then look to strengthen other areas of his side. A new right-back has already been identified as a key area but Allardyce should also be looking to bring in cover in central midfield.

It wouldn’t be a major surprise if Toivonen’s loan deal was cut short to free up some wages and a squad place.

M’Vila and Cattermole should always be first choice but they need some support.

Cattermole didn’t enjoy the best game either, he too struggled with his passing and was struggling with the pacy Swansea forwards, he was totally done for Andre Ayew’s goal.

And eventually he was subbed, with Rodwell on in his place.

M’Vila enjoyed an eventful evening in south Wales, with his every touch booed after Naughton’s 37th-minute sending off.

In real time at the Liberty Stadium, it looked like a nasty, over the top challenge.

But replays showed the ball was there to be won and Naughton won it.

A yellow perhaps, but not a red.

The Swansea faithful felt aggrieved but instead of labelling their anger towards referee Graham Scott – who had an absolute nightmare – M’Vila became the villain of the piece.

It added a bit more zest to an already bizarre game of football.

The standard, it is fair to say, was well below par on a wet and chilly night in south Wales.

M’Vila – being tracked by Arsenal and Liverpool – didn’t enjoy his best game, and he hasn’t for a few weeks now. It didn’t stop him giving his all, it was just the quality was lacking.

He was clapped off at the end and threw his shirt to a grateful Sunderland fan who had made the long trip down to the Liberty Stadium.

Yet he looked shattered as he trudged off.

Maybe, just maybe, he would benefit from a rest against Spurs to allow him be on top of his game for the arguably more crucial home match with AFC Bournemouth a week Saturday?

Three points against the Cherries would be huge and drag several teams back into the mix.

For now though, Allardyce will be basking in the glory of another crucial three points.