Cats Eye View: Jermain Defoe is Sunderland’s main weapon, stop wasting him.

Jermain Defoe battles against Bournemouth's Simon Francis
Jermain Defoe battles against Bournemouth's Simon Francis
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Jermain Defoe could be forgiven for needing a couple of Aspirins after the 1-1 draw with Bournemouth.

Time and time again he arched his neck to the sky to see another long-ball punted aimlessly towards him either sail over his head or into the grateful feet/head or hands of the Cherries backline.

Sunderland have a major weapon in their armoury in their fight for survival.

Yet they are not using him effectively.

Defoe is the club’s top scorer this season, with nine Premier League goals and three more in the Capital One Cup.

Yet, the Black Cats are not playing to his strengths.

The 33-year-old former England striker has proven this season that he can lead the line by himself, but Sunderland need to be wiser in their approach play.

With Adam Johnson, Jeremain Lens and Fabio Borini providing support behind him, there should be no reason why the defence, Lee Cattermole and Yann M’Vila feel the need to punt the ball long.

It didn’t work against Bournemouth and almost cost them dear. Only once in the second half did Defoe benefit from a long ball, Johnson finding him on the edge of the area.

He took it in his stride, cut inside and fired a shot wide.

But that was the one and only time it looked like working. The more incisive, intricate balls played into him in the win over Swansea City were nowhere to be seen.

Bournemouth impressed, well organised, well drilled and hardworking.

But their back four couldn’t believe their luck as they soaked up aimless balls punted high upfield in the opening 45 minutes.

In the end, it was down to Patrick van Aanholt to rescue the Black Cats, taking advantage of a perfectly timed defence-splitting pass from Borini to fire past Artur Boruc.

More of that type of play was needed, not long balls.

Up the other end, new Bournemouth striker Benik Afobe was showing how it should be done.

Afobe was superb. The former Wolves striker led the Cherries line and scored his second goal since joining the south coast outfit.

Bournemouth looked a cut above the hosts, their workrate, movement, passing and pressing battered a shell-shocked Sunderland.

Afobe set the tone up front in the first half, with the excellent Junior Stanislas and Harry Arter pulling the strings in midfield.

Sunderland, meanwhile, resembled a pub team and that is offensive to pub teams.

They couldn’t retain possession, string passes together, stop crosses and were being out-thought and out-fought. Thankfully, van Aanholt levelled the scores ahead of a more even second half.

First of all, Sunderland need new recruits, Defoe needs some help up front to share the goals and workload and another centre-back/right-back is needed too.

Dame N’Doye should be a welcome addition to the squad even if he didn’t get on against Eddie Howe’s side.

But another striker is needed.

If one isn’t signed before Sunderland host Manchester City a week tomorrow then the Black Cats will have to go with what they have.

And if that happens, then they must stop wasting their ace card. Defoe cut a forlorn figure at times, he was barely feeding on scraps. The delivery into him was so poor.

Sunderland need to get it right.