Sunderland’s players are trying.
Some wags may joke at this point “yeah, very trying”, but there is no lack of effort as boss David Moyes was at pains to stress.
All four goals should have ‘warning stickers’ on them from a Black Cats point of view – they were hard to watch.
Losing 4-1 to a team who are as good as Arsenal, a side who are unbeaten in 14 games since being beaten by Liverpool on the opening weekend of the season, is no disgrace.
The Gunners are seriously good and, with Liverpool, Manchester City, Spurs and Chelsea, have a one in five chance of the title.
But while you can be excused being outplayed by a glittering array of footballers at the peak of their game, not managing the basics is not all right.
All four away goals on Saturday should have ‘warning stickers’ on them from a Black Cats point of view – they were painful to watch.
There was some good early work from Lamine Kone, ably backed up by Jordan Pickford, who came sliding out when an Arsenal goal looked on, but it did not last.
Given the immense size of the Ivorian, you could forgive him being outfoxed on the deck by a Mesut Ozil or Alexis Sanchez.
But, in the air? Come on! It was bad enough that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was allowed to surge down the away right without anyone getting near to him, but for Sanchez to beat Kone to a header was hard to bear.
The departure of John O’Shea brought Papy Djilobodji into the fray and he was quickly into Sanchez and after the Chile striker went down as though he’d been shot he received a yellow card.
He, like Kone, did some decent work. but, sadly, was outdone by Olivier Giroud.
The Frenchman had been on the pitch minutes when he was left unmarked to hook in the cross from Kieran Gibbs. who, like Oxlade-Chamberlain for the opener, had been given the freedom of the Stadium of Light.
Giroud is noted for his aerial prowess. so when the Gunners were fortunate to get a corner (following a harsh free-kick) the Black Cats wisely had two men in his vicinity to take care of the sub.
However, Giroud got to Ozil’s corner first and his header beat Pickford.
At 3-1, it was game over, but Sunderland needed to make sure the scoreline did not get silly.
But there was a fourth within two minutes. There was scope to clear after Gibbs hit the post, but the Gunners were allowed the ball straight back with Sanchez walking it in.The saving grace was it never reached five or six.
Kone and Djilobodji will be at the heart of the defence on Saturday at Bournemouth and how Sunderland need them to perform.
Neither are wet-behind-the-ears kids (both are 27) and each owes Moyes something.
The Cats boss has given Papy the stage to play Premier League football and in the case of Lamine a lucrative five-year deal us mere mortals could only dream of.
They need to set the lead but they also must make sure the basics are done right.