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We provide more thoughts and reactions to last weekend's 1-1 draw with West Ham United
Sunderland suffered a late Kevin Nolan goal to deny them their first win of the season at Upton Park. Steven Fletcher had once again given the Black Cats the lead but it wasn't quite enough and they had to settle for a remarkable fourth successive draw. Another next week and it will be a new Premier League record.
Anyway, here is what we made of it.
What The Gaffer Said
Following the game, Martin O'Neill told safc.com:
We should have won the game and we should have been able to hold on.
There were a number of really good chances to make it 2-0 and with a little bit more care on the ball we could have scored those.
When you don't take those chances you always leave yourself wide open to an equalising goal.
I'm disappointed for the players. It was a strong defensive performance, particularly in the second half.
I thought we dealt with everything that West Ham threw into the penalty area and to concede in the fashion that we did was very disappointing.
Simon [Mignolet] made a great save in the first half to keep us in front - it was a fantastic save and the goal Steven Fletcher scored was also fantastic, but we knew we'd be under pressure in the second half.
As that pressure mounted, I thought we dealt with it well. But we missed too many good chances and we should have done better. We should have had more than one goal today.
We do remain unbeaten in the league, but those extra points today would have made it a great start to the campaign for us.
If we had managed to hang on I think we would have deserved it.
I don't think there will be many who disagree with the assertion that it was a very good defensive performance. It absolutely was. There certainly weren't many 'heart-in-mouth' moments.
I am not sure we were quite as much a factor at the other end of the pitch as O'Neill is suggesting here. There was the half chance for James McClean and the one Vaughan misjudged at the back post, but you wouldn't relaly describe either as big clear-cut chances.
That said, had we held on we'd be sat here discussing the archetypal away smash and grab win, so we shouldn't be too critical. (MG)
While all the neutrals and commentators continue with the line that we're without a win since March or something like that, and they're technically true, it's worth also looking at the fact we're also unbeaten so far this season. We've had some tough games so far including Arsenal and Liverpool which could both easily have been losses, while West Ham and Swansea are the kind of games we've proven to be quite capable of losing in the past. Don't let the negative side of the facts get too ingrained in you brain, the positive aspect is much more... Well, it's much nicer to think about. (SW)
Whilst there seems to be a prevalent opinion out there that Sunderland have been a little too defensive at times this season, I am not sure that is really the problem here. Martin O'Neill's favoured game plan was incredibly close to coming to perfect fruition.
The side defended well and defended in numbers and, most importantly, carved out several really great chances to counter-attack. All that was really missing was a touch of quality that was needed to convert one of those breaks into a killer second goal. With the attacking players we now have at our disposal, it's surely only a matter of time before that missing ingredient if found. (MG)
Far From A One Trick Pony
When Sunderland were chasing Steve Fletcher during the summer the stat that caught everyone's eye was the amount of headed goals he scores. Many would have presumed that he was your typical target-man type forward who is only as good as the delivery he receives.
Clearly though he is much more than that. He bagged his fourth goal in three games and his fourth goal with his feet. I wonder if the type of goals Fletcher is scoring is actually surprising people more than the amount he is scoring. It wouldn't surprise me if that was the case. (MG)