Jan Kirchhoff’s man of the match performance was the best by any midfielder in the Premier League this season, insists Sam Allardyce.
The 25-year-old endured a nightmare debut in the Tottenham Hotspur defeat after his £750,000 January move from Bayern Munich.
But he was in from the start in the 1-0 defeat against Manchester City, impressing in the holding midfield role, with fellow new boy Lamine Kone starting in defence.
“I don’t know anybody who has played better than that in central midfield for anybody,” reflected Allardyce.
“Whether it be Everton, Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea and certainly Manchester City.
“He played that well, they changed to a three and tried to block it up at half time.
“We were dominating them because of the quality of passing and finding space.
“I have to say it was up there with one of the top performances for a midfield player from any team this season, I’d say.
“He did well to last too as he hasn’t played that many games for Bayern Munich this season.
“When we got Kone in we thought we’d put him in the anchor position and he played a big part in our performance.”
It was a world away from his debut from the subs bench against Spurs but Allardyce didn’t have “any doubts” about starting him.
“When I talked to him about it, he felt over anxious [at Spurs] and I wish he’d said,” revealed Allardyce.
“On that game, people pointed him out but he wasn’t really responsible.
“The team ran out of legs and it was a bad substitution by me.”
Kirchhoff did a fine job of shielding the back four against City, while also helping break up their attacks and getting Sunderland on the break quickly.
Kone, a £5million signing from Lorient, also impressed despite the result – with some crunching tackles on Yaya Toure, in particular.
Allardyce added: “The fans will love him, especially when Toure bounced off him!
“When the fans love you it makes you feel good, hopefully, we have a good defender on our hands, a good solid defender.
“If he can bring us a few more clean sheets then that will obviously help.”