Sunderland 2-3 Crystal Palace: What can be taken from the Black Cats' latest setback?

Sunderland 2-3 Crystal Palace: What can be taken from the Black Cats' latest setback?

The Black Cats suffered possibly their most heartbreaking defeat of the season so far yesterday, but what can we take from the game?

Jack McGraghan

Sunderland's miserable run of form continued on Saturday afternoon, as they were defeated 3-2 by Crystal Palace at the Stadium of Light.

Having raced into a 2-0 lead, it looked like the Black Cats were going to move off the bottom of the table, but Palace fought back, winning it thanks to a stoppage time header from Christian Benteke

Goals are being conceded from crosses far too often

Yesterday saw the latter two Crystal Palace goals come from crosses from the left-hand side, and once again both goals could have been easily avoided in a similar fashion to the Everton game.

Patrick van Aanholt inexplicably attempted to contest for the ball with James McArthur by sticking his foot out rather than jumping for the header, which likely would have at least put the Scotsman off a little so that his header was perhaps less accurate or powerful.

The third goal from Christian Benteke showed the ineffectual zonal marking system, where the Belgian striker was allowed to run a good six yards whilst Jan Kirchhoff attempted to beat him in the air from a standing start. Benteke of course won the ball in the air easily and the game was ultimately lost then and there, with even one point evaporating before everyone's eyes.

Sunderland need to eradicate their defensive frailities fast if they wish to pick up points in the near future, because allowing sides back into games as easily as they did yesterday is a recipe for disaster, plain and simple.

Van Aanholt enduring a similar start to last season

Watchers of the Premier League may remember that at the beginning of last season, Dutch left-back Patrick van Aanholt was having a torrid time and was being labelled as the worst defender in the division. His shocking form led to him being dropped from the side for a few games before being reinstated by Sam Allardyce, and although his return ended in a 6-2 defeat to Everton fans saw his form gradually improve and he became a key player for the Black Cats.

History is now repeating itself with van Aanholt continually at fault for many of the goals his side are conceding, and although he should not be the sole bearer of blame he certainly has to accept a good portion of it.

His inability to close down the cross from opposing wingers has led to many chances being created that could have easily been avoided, and as aforementioned his lack of strength in the challenge can prove incredibly costly at any level of football, not just in the Premier League.

Last season saw Billy Jones take his place at left-back for a short period of time, and perhaps he or Jason Denayer should take the Dutchman's place in the team for the time being. As last season showed, some time out of the firing line could do van Aanholt the world of good.

Where would Sunderland be without Jermain Defoe?

This isn't exactly news to anyone, as almost every fan that watches the Premier League knows that Sunderland would likely be the worst team in the division if not for the 33-year old's everlasting goal scoring ability.

Defoe notched another two goals yesterday, but even that was not enough as his defence let him down by conceding three and leaving the Wearsiders with no points once again.

Sunderland were not even playing well at 2-0 up yesterday afternoon, yet their talisman had put them ahead single handedly with the only chances of the game at that point. His team-mates showed last season that if they remain strong at the back and Defoe nicks a goal at the other end they can secure vital points, so David Moyes will be sure to focus on his team's defending before the next game against West Brom on Saturday.

Wahbi Khazri looking to be the next out of the door?

January signing Wahbi Khazri was a solid performer for Sunderland in the second half of the 2015/16 season, yet for whatever reason he has not started a single game in the Premier League for the club so far this season.

Rumours surfaced that the Tunisian had returned from his holidays in poor condition, and that he was deemed as not fit enough to be starting Premier League matches.

Now however we're six games into the season, and if Khazri is never afforded the chance to play football how will he ever become match fit? The more likely reason for his recent absence from the starting line-up is that Moyes has not taking a liking to him ability wise.

Instead Moyes favours an ageing Steven Pienaar, who does not have the energy to play on the wing at the age of 34, Duncan Watmore who seemingly hasn't improved as fans had hoped since his introduction to the team at the start of last season and finally Adnan Januzaj who drifts in and out of games far too often.

With results not going Sunderland's way and the men in front of Khazri not performing particularly well, it could well be time for Moyes to give the Tunisian a chance to impress in the side.

West Brom has now become a must-win game - even this early on in the season

'Must-win' games are usually only mentioned towards the end of the season when targets are becoming out of sight for various teams, but for Sunderland in recent seaons the phrase has become traditionally used within the opening 10 games of the season and this time around it is no different.

With five losses in six games in the Premier League so far leaving the club rock bottom of the table, three points are becoming desperately needed more and more with each passing game as teams above Sunderland begin to turn their fortunes around.

It would not be a surprise for West Ham and Stoke City to pick themselves up relatively soon despite their poor starts, and anything but a win at home to West Brom on Saturday will simply live Sunderland lagging behind their rivals for yet another season.

With confidence in the dressing room now as low as ever, it will not be an easy task for the players to secure those elusive three points, but the longer this poor form continues the harder it will become to turn things around.