April 18, 2024

The Black Cats’ manager must get the gifted genius back from the start this afternoon.
Sunderland return to Championship action today, travelling away from Wearside to face Birmingham at St. Andrew’s.

The Black Cats come into this game after losing 1-0 to Huddersfield in Yorkshire earlier this week, due to Matthew Pearson’s first-half goal.

Head coach Michael Beale may now attempt to make alterations to his starting lineup in order to win again against Tony Mowbray, the man he replaced in the dugout.

Following a dismal performance last time out, Abdoullah Ba should be dropped from the starting lineup and replaced by Patrick Roberts.

Abdoullah Ba’s performance against Huddersfield

The French midfielder started on the right flank against the Terriers and struggled to make an impact in and out of possession.

He played the first 61 minutes of the game and produced one chance for his teammates, but also failing to register a single shot on goal.

The 20-year-old lightweight lost three of his five ground duels and failed to complete any of his three attempted dribbles before being removed after just over an hour.

As shown in the table above, Ba has been in bad form over the last three matches, with a stunning lack of influence at the top of the pitch.

He has passed up two decent opportunities created for him by his teammates and has only made two vital passes in three starts for the Black Cats, therefore Beale must remove him from the starting lineup and start Roberts on the right wing instead.

Why Patrick Roberts should start


EXCLUSIVE: Concerns emerge over Patrick Roberts Sunderland future - Sports  Illustrated Sunderland Nation

The £11,000-per-week magician recently began in a 3-1 victory over Plymouth Argyle and demonstrated his quality and importance to the team in an outstanding performance.

Ba began in midfield that day, rather than on the right flank, allowing Roberts to play out wide. The English forward took advantage of the opportunity and delivered an excellent performance.

As shown in the table above, the former Manchester City starlet, who was once dubbed “magic” by journalist Josh Bunting, was highly consistent in possession of the ball, with only two errant passes and three chances generated, one of which resulted in a goal.

Roberts, who Bunting also described as having “sheer quality,” slid the ball over to Pierre Ekwah from a free-kick, catching the Plymouth defence off guard and allowing the ex-West Ham star to shoot a shot into the back of the net to make it 1-1 at the time.

The 27-year-old genius won five of his eight duels on the day, scored one goal, and made three important passes, more than Ba has in his last three starts combined – all in 69 minutes against Plymouth.

This is why Beale should brutally drop the former Le Havre prospect from the starting lineup, allowing Roberts to come in on the right wing and create Birmingham difficulties in their own third.

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