Cats Eye: Patrick van Aanholt must start hitting headlines for right reasons

Patrick van Aanholt in action for Sunderland against Crystal Palace
Patrick van Aanholt in action for Sunderland against Crystal Palace
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Perhaps for Patrick van Aanholt, a difficult week always had potential to end on a low note.

The Sunderland defender had found himself in the spotlight seven days ago after being mysteriously withdrawn from the side to face Tottenham just 40 minutes from kick-off.

The attack-minded former Chelsea player had, until then, shown all the good things in his game

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It gave rise to endless speculation and some weird and wonderful conspiracy theories, especially after David Moyes restricted his answer afterwards to “medical reasons.”

The Black Cats boss explained fully a couple of days later how van Aanholt was taken out of the firing line on the advice of a panel cardiologists following heart checks after the 3-0 defeat to Everton.

Moyes will have hoped the 26-year-old’s restoration to the starting XI at QPR in midweek would draw a line under the story, only for PVA to hit the headlines soon after for being pictured puffing on a shisha pipe.

While an old pic and not illegal, it caused much irritation to the manager who admitted before the game he was “not impressed” – an hour on the pipe, the British Heart Foundation say, is like working your way through 100 cigarettes.

Sunderland’s fans may have been reaching for their Lambert & Butlers (there are other makes of tab available) having seen their side surrender a two-goal lead against Crystal Palace to lose 3-2 and fall to the foot of the Premier League.

Poor van Aanholt was involved in two of the Palace goals – he was indecisive in dealing with a punt forward just seconds after celebrating Jermain Defoe’s second goal.

To add insult to injury, Joe Ledley’s shot which followed deflected off the left-back and ended up in the home net. And 15 minutes from time, the Dutchman allowed James McArthur to get in front of him to head in sub Zeki Fryers’ cross from wide on the left.

Van Aanholt seemed to fade as the game went on, no shock maybe given the week he’d been through.

The attack-minded former Chelsea player had, until then, shown all the good things in his game.

There was an early thrust off the left touchline early doors, a cross from the same side which Defoe went close to flicking into Steve Mandanda’s net and a lightning burst down the left which saw his cross blocked.

After the break, he was at it again, almost getting in sub Duncan Watmore with Mandanda coming out, unconvincingly, to grab the ball at the second attempt.

Van Aanholt will be disappointed with the first two Palace goals – for all his threat going forward his first job is as a defender.

That job will be vital this Saturday when West Brom come to the Stadium of Light.

But Moyes, who has still to decide whether to fine the Netherlands international for his shisha activities, will want more of his attacking flair.

PVA provides a great attacking outlet down the left side and with Moyes seeking more openings from his side, his presence will be crucial.

He will hope the flying Dutchman hits the headlines for the right reasons.