The worrying Ross Stewart stats as Sunderland's attacking concerns are highlighted in Shrewsbury draw

There was a spell of late pressure as Sunderland looked to salvage three points from a disappointing performance against 10-man Shrewsbury – yet it was too little too late.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 4:00 pm

Lee Johnson’s side registered 64 per cent possession at The Montgomery Waters Meadow Stadium – as you would expect against opponents fighting at the bottom end of the table who were playing with a numerical disadvantage for 45 minutes.

Yet the Black Cats registered just four efforts on target, one more than the Shrews, on another frustrating night which raised more concerns.

In his post-match verdict, Johnson pointed out his side’s wastefulness from crosses when they worked the ball into wide areas.

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It was true that too many of Sunderland’s deliveries failed to hit their intended target, yet it was also the position of the crosses which made it easier for Shrewsbury to defend.

According to football database Wyscout, 16 of Sunderland’s 33 crosses were successful (48.48 per cent), yet the majority of the ones that found another Black Cats player were delivered from distance and floated into the box (as shown by Figure One).

That made it easier for Shrewsbury’s centre-backs to head the ball clear on the infrequent occasions it was drifted into a dangerous area.

Another concern for Sunderland is how Ross Stewart’s chances have dried up in recent matches.

Sunderland striker Ross Stewart playing against Shrewsbury Town.

The Scottish striker was clinical at the start of the season and has netted ten league goals this campaign, yet his expected goals total against Shrewsbury was just 0.27.

As shown by Stewart’s heatmap (Figure Two), the striker was predominantly positioned in the Shrewsbury box, where he registered nine touches.

Most of those touches came when he was stretching to get on the end of a crosses or retrieving the ball with a defender in close proximity.

There were a couple of headers which were directed off target, yet the forward's chances were once again limited.

Figure One: Sunderland's crosses vs Shrewsbury - successful in red and unsuccessful in white (Wyscout).

Whether it’s the striker taking up slightly different positions, or Sunderland simply improving the supply to their frontman, they have to find a way to create more opportunities for Stewart again – starting with Saturday’s game at Cambridge.

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Figure Two: Ross Stewart's heatmap vs Shrewsbury (Wyscout).

Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor