Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cats Need to Show Attacking Claws; Cats Need to Show Claws in Attack

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cats Need to Show Attacking Claws; Cats Need to Show Claws in Attack

Article excerpt

JOHN O'Shea has admitted Sunderland need to strike a better balance between defence and attack.

Even after conceding eight goals at Southampton, the Black Cats have the sixth-best defensive record in the Premier League, but sit in 14th because only Aston Villa and Burnley have scored less than their 16 goals in 19 matches.

After their sixth 0-0 draw of the season, against a Villa side reduced to 10 men in the 50th minute, O'Shea acknowledged his side need to take more risks to increase their potency.

"The whole team unit is working so hard together defensively and maybe that's why we're lacking the final bit of energy," the centre-back reasoned.

"We've done a lot of work on the defensive side and that's the balance we've got to find.

"The frustrating thing on Sunday is that when you're against 10 men (as was the case once Fabian Delph was sent off for a studs-up tackle on Jordi Gomez) you know you're going to have a lot of possession but you're hoping to create more clear-cut chances.

"We got into dangerous positions and maybe we need to be that bit more positive and take people on in Turn to Page 44 FROM BACK PAGE the box. Then you're putting them under pressure to get tackles in.

"We want to put crosses in and make defenders make really tough clearances, rather than putting it straight on to their head."

Despite playing so long with a numerical disadvantage, Villa arguably looked as likely to win Sunday's game. Costel Pantilimon had to make more - and more dif-ficult - saves than his opposite number, Brad Guzan.

"It's frustration for us at the moment," O'Shea reflected. "Credit to Villa, they were down to 10 men and they were always going to have a bit of a rallying call, stay together, two banks of four, get in tight, leave (Christian) Benteke up front and hopefully cause a few problems on the odd counter-attack. …

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