Cats Eye View: Bryan Oviedo debut shows why Sunderland won’t miss Patrick van Aanholt

Bryan Oviedo let the Palace attack know he was around
Bryan Oviedo let the Palace attack know he was around
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Patrick van Aanholt had plenty to say for himself after completing his £14million move to relegation rivals Crystal Palace.

The Dutch left-back said Palace had a better, more compact team. Talk about timing.

Come 5pm on Saturday, he looked lost for words after seeing his new teammates dismantled by his former in front of an angry home support. Van Aanholt wasn’t even the best left-back on the pitch. No, that accolade belonged to his replacement – Bryan Oviedo.

David Moyes has taken a fair bit of stick since taking charge at Sunderland for recruiting players he knows from his time at Everton.

Victor Anichebe, Steven Pienaar, Joleon Lescott, Oviedo and Darron Gibson all arrived as Moyes looked to get the ‘band back together’ or so the joke goes.

In Oviedo, Moyes looks to have hit gold. Fans were lavishing praise on the 26-year-old post-match, with many agreeing it was one of the best debuts witnessed in a red and white shirt.

It was hard to disagree. Oviedo made his mark from the off. Up against Palace dangerman Wilfried Zaha, Oviedo could have been overawed given his lack of game time this season.

But despite only making seven appearances prior to Saturday, Oviedo looked like he’d been playing with his new teammates all season.

Comfortable on the ball, he was quick to let Zaha know he was in for a tough afternoon with some strong challenges, anticipating his movement well and containing the powerful forward.

Van Aanholt was often criticised for his poor defending, positional play and lack of concentration, Oviedo looks to be very much an upgrade on that front.

If Saturday was anything to go by, he isn’t shy to get forward too. Linking up well with Seb Larsson down the left-hand side, he offered an option on the overlap.

Selling van Aanholt for big money and replacing him with Oviedo and Gibson – who impressed on his debut after coming on as a second half sub – for £7.5million could prove a very shrewd piece of business.

Both have had injury problems but the main reason Oviedo struggled for game time at Goodison Park was because he had Leighton Baines in front of him in the pecking order.

At Sunderland, the left-back slot is very much his. The Costa Rican was a popular figure on Merseyside, with fans praising his work rate and attitude.

Both of those attributes will go down well on Wearside.

His counterpart on the opposite side of the pitch was having an afternoon to forget.

Van Aanholt, who is Sunderland’s joint second-top goalscorer this season, was a major attacking threat for the Black Cats.

But defensively he was a liability and he gave away the free-kick which led to Lamine Kone’s opening goal. Palace never recovered.

Confidence soared thanks to a devastating six-minute spell before half-time.

This was a real team effort, with the Sunderland defence playing a key role in limiting the chances created by Palace. None more so than Oviedo at left-back.

After the game, the Costa Rican took to social media, tweeting: “I feel so happy. It was a great debut, but mainly a great game for all my teammates. This is just the beginning!”

If that was just the beginning, then Sunderland fans have a lot to look forward too.