Why Wahbi Khazri has fallen from grace at Sunderland

Wahbi Khazri
Wahbi Khazri
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Wahbi Khazri’s recent fall from grace has been spectacular at Sunderland.

The Tunisian wideman was flavour of the month with Sam Allardyce at the helm, but things have changed dramatically under David Moyes.

And the remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the £9million man has got many fans wondering just what has gone wrong?

Here, we analyse what has changed for the winger and assess what the future might hold for him at the Stadium of Light.

Why has he fallen out of favour?

A key player in Allardyce’s side which avoided relegation, Khazri has found himself on the periphery under Moyes.

At a time where the manager needs match-winners, you’d think he’d turn to the talents of the former Bordeaux man.

But, as things stand, a starting role seems blocked. It has been since the summer.

Steven Pienaar, Jeremain Lens and Joel Asoro have all been handed chances ahead of Khazri.

This could be because of any number of things. A lack of fitness seems to have been the deciding factor to Moyes, publicly at least.

The links with the Sunderland exit door, which failed to be shaken despite denials, could also be an issue.

Of course, a manager might also not be convinced by the player’s abilities. This can never be discounted.

Has his performance level actually dropped?

Khazri was an unheralded success when he arrived from France in January.

Maybe his performances were overshadowed a touch by the other two Ks - Jan Kirchhoff and Lamine Kone - but in games against Chelsea and Manchester United he looked worth every penny of his fee.

Khazri’s impeccable delivery from out wide, and from set pieces, was one of the catalysts to the Black Cats’ revival at the back end of last season.

He returned from pre-season a week later than the rest of the squad this summer - it feels as if he’s been playing catch up ever since.

Khazri has made just two sub appearances in the league this season – a 25 minute cameo at Man City and 33 against Everton on Monday.

According to whoscored.com, the midfielder’s passing stats are down, though. He produced an assist and two goals in 13 starts last season. This one he’s contributed none.

Does Khazri have a future?

Yes, according to Moyes.

Well, in fairness the manager has a tight squad, so as Monday night proved he needs all the players he can muster.

And for that reason Khazri, who signed a four-and-a-half year deal, is likely to get the chance to shine between now and January, at least.

When asked whether he felt Khazri had a part to play for Sunderland this season, Moyes’ answer was emphatic.

Prior to the Shrewsbury League Cup win, in which Khazri made his only start this season, the manager said: “Yes, definitely. Just because they don’t play in the opening games doesn’t mean they are not part of the plans.

“Wahbi came back a week after everyone else and he has just looked a little behind everyone else.”

Where does he fit into Moyes’ starting XI?

Against Everton on Monday he did himself few favours.

Having only been on the pitch a few short minutes it was his missed tackle, then poor attempt at tracking back, that led to the Toffees’ and Romelu Lukaku’s opener.

With workmanlike performers Duncan Watmore and Lynden Gooch in possession of the shirts, while Sunderland have graft and effort in abundance they lack sufficient proven quality to deliver in the final third. Khazri can provide that, whether as a number 10 or out wide. He might be just what the doctor ordered at White Hart Lane.