League One: Stendel’s Side To Stun Sunderland?6 min read
Sunderland entertain Barnsley in League One on Tuesday night and both sides will fancy there chances given their similar starts to both campaigns.
Sunderland v Barnsley
Barnsley have been among League One’s most impressive sides thus far, even after a below-par 1-1 draw with Doncaster on Saturday.
A greater reflection of their full capabilities came in their last away game, a 2-0 win at Accrington, which saw them dominate against top half opposition – despite seeing left-back Zeki Fryers sent off with 25 minutes to play.
While the Tykes set up as a 4-4-2 on paper, they are far more fluid than most teams who deploy that formation.
Alex Mowatt, who acts as the deepest of the midfield quartet, dictates play with ease thanks to his astute positional awareness and strong left foot.
Brad Potts makes powerful runs in from the right channel which drags teams back while Mamadou Thiam can do the same from the left, with the dynamic Cameron McGeehan breaking from midfield.
They possess a potent striker in Kieffer Moore, who has scored 10 goals in 18 games in all competitions this term.
Moore now has a partner in Cauley Woodrow, who has scored three goals in his last three appearances after coming off the bench to bag an equalizer against Donny, after great defending from Ethan Pinnock and goalkeeping from Jordan Smith had kept them in the contest.
The Tykes have plenty of depth, which will enable them to handle the midweek fixture; on Saturday, for example, Daniel Stendel had the luxury of being able to replace Fryers with Daniel Pinillos, who has played regularly at Championship level with Nottingham Forest.
Hosts Sunderland, meanwhile are two point better off after a 2-2 draw at Walsall, which saw them claw back a two-goal second half deficit with a man disadvantage.
Manager Jack Ross once again deserves credit for his substitutions, with midfielder Luke O’Nien and technician Chris Maguire making a massive difference from the bench; the fight-back also highlighted the spirit within the camp and the connection between club and supporters.
The Black Cats have been able to snatch points in a lot of games through their individual quality: the likes of Maguire and Aiden McGeady can produce magic from outside the box while teenager Josh Maja is proving a predatory goalscorer.
There have been imperfections in their performances though, too.
Sunderland are yet to match Barnsley’s ability to control games and consistently carve out clear cut chances, which would suggest they need to improve their approach play to ensure the sustainability of their form.
In their previous home game, the Black Cats were held to a 1-1 draw by a Wycombe side who were of course dogged and spirited, but not promotion material.
In each of the five preceding games, they won despite allowing their opponents more shots, with each of those victories coming with at least one or two major caveats.
The opener in the 2-1 win at Bradford could have been ruled out for handball, they gave Shrewsbury two good first half chances before winning 2-0, then they needed Jon McLaughlin to save one-on-one from Mallik Wilks in the 1-0 victory over Doncaster.
The Wearsiders were lucky not to concede a penalty with a slender one-goal lead against Southend before bagging two more, then two Graham Carey free-kicks came very close for Plymouth in the 2-0 triumph at Home Park.
In two of the aforementioned victories, they were out-shot by a margin as big as 17-8 and in another, 16-6.
Clearly, allowing opponents more shots has not been problematic against non-top six sides who perhaps do not quite have the quality to capitalize on the territorial advantages.
Barnsley however, can match Sunderland for end product and, potentially, beat them based on the volume of chances and shooting opportunities they create.
Barnsley to win –