Sunderland supporters must be desperate to see September. For the fifth season running their team have failed to win any of their first four league games yet at least Dick Advocaat’s team have stopped the rot.
Since their emergency team meeting a fortnight ago today, the Wearsiders have picked up two Premier League draws – this second point coming thanks to the first goals in English football by Yann M’Vila and Jeremain Lens, two summer signings.
The Frenchman M’Vila gave Sunderland the lead with a fine ninth-minute free-kick while Lens made it 2-2 with a deflected strike soon after the restart after good work by the substitute Ola Toivonen on his debut.
“For the majority of the game, Aston Villa were the better team but a point away is good for us,” said Advocaat, who still hopes to add to his squad.
Sunderland rode their luck as Scott Sinclair continued his re-emergence as a footballer of substance. He hit a midweek hat-trick in the Capital One Cup against Notts County and now scored two more, the first a penalty after Lee Cattermole had climbed all over his back. “There was no need for that kind of penalty,” said Advocaat, who replaced Cattermole at half-time.
For Sinclair’s second he arrived in the six-yard box to cap a brilliant move featuring a driving run from Idrissa Gana and superb cross by Jordan Amavi.
At 2-2, Micah Richards failed to turn in a Sinclair cross and Pantilimon made a flying save from Ashley Westwood, and the frustration got too much for Tim Sherwood. Villa’s manager kicked out in anger after a Carles Gil penalty appeal was ignored and hurt his hamstring. “I must have looked like a spoiled brat,” he joked. “I tell my kids not to behave like that.”