Cats Eye View: Cavalry arriving just too late to save Sunderland

Sub Darron Gibson shows his despair at the final whistle at Leicester last night. Picture by Frank Reid
Sub Darron Gibson shows his despair at the final whistle at Leicester last night. Picture by Frank Reid
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Under-fire David Moyes will have cast an envious full-time glance at his opposite number in the Leicester City dugout, Craig Shakespeare.

The Foxes boss – in his short spell as manager since taking over from Claudio Ranieri – has as many league wins as the Sunderland boss has managed all season.

The fifth straight league win under Shakespeare came via the head of Islam Slimani and the boot of Jamie Vardy.

At half-time, last night’s game was there for the taking. Sunderland had defended well, kept close tabs on Vardy and Shinji Okazaki while they were applying pressure up the other end.

With tiring second-half limbs, it was clear to everyone watching that changes needed to be made sooner but they weren’t.

In the end, it was a comfortable night for the hosts.

Sunderland have now failed to score in nine of their last 10 games. A shocking statistic.

Before kick-off, Sunderland had gone eight hours and 15 minutes without a goal, spanning five and a half matches.

Make that six and a half now, and nine hours and 45 minutes.

Almost 10 hours of football. Incredible.

The timer is being added to by the week. The last time they failed to score in six successive top-flight games was 36 years ago. Just let that sink in.

What looked to be a promising evening for Sunderland ultimately ended in another missed opportunity to pick up points.

There were some positives to take from the Midlands. Lee Cattermole is back and played 70 minutes in his first start since September.

Alongside Jack Rodwell, he gave Sunderland a platform to perform.

Something they have missed all season. Bite, experience, leadership in the middle of the park.

The other bonus for under-fire Moyes – taunted by Leicester fans with chants of ‘You’re getting slapped in the morning’ – was the sight of Anichebe in a Sunderland shirt again.

Of course, he should have been brought on earlier.

But at least Moyes has another attacking option to play in the coming weeks as they battle the drop, however slim their chances now look.

Anichebe played a key role in the November and December run of four wins out of seven. Moyes needs him back firing on all cylinders. He made an instant impact at Leicester.

His deflected effort hit the woodwork, the closest Sunderland have come to scoring for several games.

The away games at Waford and Leicester were earmarked as games to pick points up in. They failed to do so.

Do Sunderland need a miracle now?

Moyes added: “It is tougher. I really believed to give us a real chance we needed to win one of these two away games. Both were difficult on paper.

“What I didn’t put down was a win against a Manchester United, Arsenal or a Chelsea in my remaining fixtures. I now need to win at least one of them.

“It is Manchester United next, let’s see if we can win that game.”

It doesn’t get any easier for Sunderland.

The return of Cattermole and Anichebe can only help but as feared it looks like the cavalry has arrived too late for Sunderland.