Why Larsson’s my middle man – Poyet

Seb Larsson
Seb Larsson
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SEB LARSSON is now primarily considered as a central midfield option in Gus Poyet’s plans.

Larsson arrived at Sunderland three years ago as a right-sided midfielder and netted eight goals from that position during his maiden campaign at the Stadium of Light.

But former Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill moved Larsson into the middle of the park and the Swedish international has predominantly remained there ever since.

During his 10 months in charge at Sunderland, head coach Poyet has been eager to return players to their natural positions, rather than putting square pegs in round holes – a feature of both O’Neill and Paolo Di Canio’s brief reigns.

But, with Sunderland now primarily operating in a 4-1-4-1 system, Poyet believes Larsson is most effective in a central midfield role.

“I think the problem with putting Seb out wide is you do it for a quality delivery, like the (David) Bentleys and (David) Beckhams,” said Poyet.

“But, for that, we need to play with two main strikers, so it’s changed a little bit.

“Physically, he’s one of the best at the club – if not the best – in terms of a player who can press all day long and give us quality on the ball.

“For me, he’s more important infield than out wide.

“I think he’s comfortable there and enjoying it there.

“When we need someone with pace or to go around people, I think it’s more suitable for Adam Johnson or Will Buckley.”

Larsson’s place in Poyet’s plans was confirmed when he played a key part in Sunderland’s remarkable resurgence at the tail end of last season and the 29-year-old was the only one of the eight out-of-contract players at the club to sign a new deal.

The former Arsenal man continued in that vein of form in last weekend’s Premier League opener at West Brom after netting Sunderland’s late equaliser in the 2-2 draw.