Thursday, February 2, 2023

Why This Midfielder’s Return Can’t Come Soon Enough For Sunderland

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Aakarsh Bommakanti
Was diving around lush green grass not so long ago but my keyboard is all I have now. An avid observer of detail in sports with a passion to make myself heard. Can find me playing on a field if not in front of my screen.

Sam Allardyce, who helped Sunderland to yet another season in the top flight of English football was replaced by former Manchester United man David Moyes after the former was announced as the head of the England national team after the debacles in the EUROs. The new manager at the Stadium of Light has not been able to get the team off to a good start taking just a point from their first 3 games and has also left the fans furious with the lack of ambition in the transfer window. However, the manager has added decent quality to the squad to help him compete in the next season and he will now hope that star players in the squad from the previous season step up to the plate when needed. One such player who is just returned to training this past week is Jan Kirchhoff.

kirchhoff

The former Bayern Munich man moved to Sunderland in January this year and though had a disastrous start to his Premier League adventure, made some important contributions in Sunderland’s fight against relegation last season. The 25-year old is one of the very few players who are equally impressive in a defensive midfield position and also as a centre-back. He is an athletic player who is capable of staying disciplined in defence are also as a pivot in front of the defence. He is an astute passer who can pick his man with ease and is a player who is a constant presence at the back for his side.

The only criticism of the 25-year old has been his injury prone career. Though he found himself a regular place in the side last season as a defensive midfielder Kirchhoff picked up a niggle after the pre-season friendly against Montpellier and has not featured for the Black Cats ever since.

He is not expected to be back till mid-September by which time Sunderland can be in deeper trouble. It is just the start of the season and we are just three games into the campaign, but the amount of competition in the league this season makes every point in every game important and Sunderland need their best XI on the field for every game. And Kirchhoff is among the best at the club this season.

The manager has used the duo of Lamine Kone and Papy Djilobodji as the centre-back pairing with Jack Rodwell in front of the back 4. Rodwell was decent with his hold up play and also his distribution but he was not able to provide the strength and mettle that Kirchhoff gets to the table in Sunderland’s midfield.

In all the three games of the new season, David Moyes’ side were not able to get hold of the ball in dangerous areas and were not able to keep their goal away from danger for long periods. They are a team that rely on a strong foundation in defence but in the first few games, they were anything but confident. Kirchhoff provided the foundation for the attacks with resolute defending in the side but more importantly, he provided cover for the full-backs who were at times the only source of width to their attack. This season, Sunderland have dearly missed that solidity in midfield (partly due to M’Vila’s absence too) and have looked less compact in defence.

They did not look like a Sunderland side that is hard to beat and they need a shield in midfield that can keep them in the game for long periods. Kirchhoff is one of the most suited players at the club to do so and his return to the first team will make the team a far better defensive unit. David Moyes, after the first three games, will feel that Kirchhoff’s return cannot come soon enough. Do you think Sunderland are missing Jan Kirchhoff dearly this season?

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