Hugo Lloris, 5: Hugo hasn’t been the same player since his concussion at Goodison Park. Mistakes have become more and more frequent in recent weeks, and his weak punch yesterday ultimately cost us the opening goal. A solid game on the whole, but other than the mistake, Hugo had little to do.
Kyle Walker, 8: Another excellent display from our young right-back, my choice for Player of The Season so far. Maybe training with Gary Neville at England has helped Walker, but something is really different this season with him. He defended well, and gave Adam Johnson absolutely no space all game. His strong, powerful runs down the right flank also caused all sorts of problems for Sunderland, who couldn’t contain him and Lennon working in unison. Another dominating performance from Kyle, who has been excellent recently (bar his mistake in the lead up to Rooney’s goal last weekend).
Etienne Capoue, 7: Capoue, who was filling in at centre-back, played extremely well yesterday. He read the game astutely, and made some vital interceptions. At times, his passing was a little bit erratic, but on the whole he had a great game. Definitely a viable option for centre-back in the future.
Michael Dawson, 6: I didn’t really notice Dawson much yesterday, other than when he was getting turned inside out by Altidore or lumping up high passes to a helpless Jermain Defoe. It wasn’t Dawson’s best game of the season, but he looked solid enough and won a lot in the air.
Kyle Naughton, 7: Surprisingly, I thought Kyle Naughton played very well. Positioning was excellent, and his passing choices were even better. He played the ball into Nacer Chadli early every time, encouraging the Belgian to run at his defender. He ended the game with a passing accuracy of 90%, and this is testament to his performance yesterday. However, Naughton was helped in that Seb Larsson, Naughton’s winger, played quite centrally and always looked to come inside, meaning that Naughton didn’t really ever have a winger in his zone. But you can’t take anything away from Kyle, it was a top display.
Mousa Dembele, 7: Anybody who has been following me on Twitter for a while will know that I feel the jury is very much out on Dembele. I think his lack of creativity and vision really hurt him as a player, and he wouldn’t really get a look in if I was picking my ‘strongest XI’ with everybody fit. That being said, he did play well yesterday. His dribbling was, as ever, fantastic and his tenacious running ultimately got us the winning goal. His passing was smart and he worked well in a pivot with Paulinho. I would sacrifice him for Sandro in our next outing however.
Paulinho, 7: Another great game from our Brazilian powerhouse in midfielder. He got us our equaliser after a good knock-down from Nacer Chadli, and played well all game. His work-rate was top notch yesterday, and he was getting up and down the pitch like we all know he can. He linked up well with Defoe and Lennon around the box, and looked threatening all game. Very impressed.
Aaron Lennon, 8: We are beginning to see the best of Aaron Lennon again. His pace caused Sunderland problems, and he could so easily have got an assist for a Defoe goal, but Defoe’s header came off the post. He also created a good chance for Paulinho in the first half after a wonderfully skilful flick. I love Aaron Lennon, and it looks as if he is loving his football under AVB as well.
Lewis Holtby, 8: Lewis is playing with so much confidence after his winner against Fulham, and he put in another excellent showing yesterday. He marshalled the midfield really well around Sunderland’s area, spraying passes to the wingers accurately. He saw a lot of the ball and was involved in everything we had going forward. An fantastic performance.
Nacer Chadli, 6: Some may find this rating a little harsh, but I was really struggling to see what Chadli was offering other than in the air yesterday. He lacks the pace of our other wingers, and that was made very clear yesterday as he was struggling to beat his man and get crosses into the area. He did well to assist Paulinho in the first half, but other than that he did very little. I would rather see Lamela, Townsend or Sigurdsson play on the left against Liverpool.
Jermain Defoe, 7: I thought Defoe had a very good game. His movement was actually surprisingly good, and he was unlucky not to have cored in this game. He hit the woodwork twice, and looked bright around Sunderland’s area. He looked very threatening and should keep his place against Liverpool in my opinion.
Sandro, 6: Had little to do but made some crunching tackles. He could easily have given away a penalty.
Townsend, 6: Looked bright when he came on. He was playing on the left, and put some teasing balls into the area.
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