Saturday, April 1, 2023

Why Ronald Koeman Is Right About Sunderland’s Biggest Weapon

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Sunderland will be taking on Everton this Monday at the Stadium of Light and the Black Cats, who have only one point from their 3 fixtures so far, will be hoping to take something from the game. Everton, on the other hand, has settled nicely under new manager Ronald Koeman as they remain unbeaten in their first three fixtures having won two of them.

David Moyes is thus desperate to get his first three points of the season on Tuesday, knowing fully well that failure to make the home advantage count would mean even more trouble for his team. While both the managers of Sunderland and Everton had to deal with massive disappointments on the deadline day, they still feel that the options available at their disposal is good enough, at least till the winter transfer window opens for the home side. With much to play for, it will be an interesting tie for sure.

Ronald Koeman is a manager who advocates attacking football for his sides. The Dutchman is also very aware of the fact that his opponents would be desperate for the points on Tuesday and will be aiming to put to good use perhaps their only option of making an impact, which is Jermaine Defoe.

The 33-year old striker was the person most responsible for keeping the club in the Premier League last season with his 15 goals in the league. This season he picked up from where he left off in 2015/16 having already scored two times against Southampton and Manchester City. Speaking ahead of the game, the Everton manager remarked, “Defoe is very dangerous, he is always finding space with good movements if he has a chance, normally it’s a goal and we need to prepare for him because he is showing his productivity as a striker. But it’s not just Defoe – if we can stop the midfielders passing to Defoe then we don’t have that problem.”


Everton thus are concentrating on the prospect of stifling up their midfielders. Koeman’s midfield trio of Barry, Gueye and McCarthy will have some serious assignments to execute in the game. Isolating Defoe upfront would completely nullify the threat he poses and with the lack of creativity in the current Sunderland line-up, the hosts would have to resort to some route 1 tactics which have never been conducive for the 33-year-old striker due to his short stature.

Everton thus can have a pretty comfortable 90 minutes on Tuesday while Moyes would be feeling the pressure. Koeman wants to make his counterpart unsure about employing the mentality (attacking or conservative) of his team when Defoe is nullified. Pushing men forward to provide support would mean more spaces on offer for the visitors. With the current defending ability of the Black Cats (without Kirchhoff who was a key component last season) it would only increase the Toffees chances of returning home with all the points.

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