West Ham 1-0 Sunderland: What did we learn from morale-sapping late defeat?

West Ham 1-0 Sunderland: What did we learn from morale-sapping late defeat?

David Moyes' side succumbed to their seventh loss of the season yesterday afternoon.

Jack McGraghan

Sunderland are still yet to win a league game so far this season after conceding deep into stoppage time to lose at West Ham on Saturday, but what can the Black Cats take away from the game? 

Didier Ndong is failing to impress

Sunderland's record signing at £13.6 million, a fee that looks small in comparison to the record fees of other Premier League clubs, has now had a bit of time to settle in to the team and his new surroundings after moving from France. 

On the pitch is where things aren't going as planned however, with the Gabon international floating through games unnoticed in a similar fashion to that of Jack Rodwell, who started alongside him yesterday in midfield.

Ndong isn't short of endeavour as he chases the opposition around to try and win possession back, but that is just the thing, he never actually wins the ball back. The midfielder spends the game chasing shadows and then when he does receive the ball, is content to simply play a five or ten yard pass sideways or backwards which fails to push his side forward.

Much more needs to be done if Ndong is to turn his fortunes around, because as things stand he is looking like a rather expensive flop that may well be talked about in the same breath as Afonso Alves in the near future.

Jermain Defoe shows there is still a small threat in the side

Sunderland may not have many (if any) players that can change a game like Jermain Defoe can, but yesterday afternoon showed that opposition defences still fear the 34-year-old when he gets the ball in and around the box.

West Ham played three central defenders and whenever Defoe received the ball around the 18 yard area they were sent into panic, throwing themselves at the ball and trying to crowd him out in three against one situations constantly.

It worked well enough as Defoe didn't get on the scoresheet and saw most of his shots blocked, but it does at least show that opposition players are given something to fear by at least one player in a red and white shirt.

Negative mindset saw Sunderland drop a point at the death

With the game scoreless and edging towards the final whistle, David Moyes opted to make two subtitutions that might as well have put up a banner for all to see in the London Stadium beckoning the home side to push forward and grab the winning goal.

Paddy McNair and Billy Jones came on to replace Wahbi Khazri and Steven Pienaar, meaning that two defenders replaced two forward thinking midfielders in a move that was undoubtedly to try and close the game off and secure a point. 

However, the team was coping well with the same mindset that had been there for most of the game and these late changes simply invited pressure on to a defence that does not know how to stand firm when their backs are against the wall.

Hopefully this proves as a lesson for the Black Cats boss going forward that his team may not be as strong minded as he seems to think.

Jack Rodwell's remarkable winless run continues

Yesterday's result means that Rodwell is now a record breaker, but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. The midfielder has now started 32 league games for the Wearsiders without winning a single match, in an astonishing run that makes you wonder whether it is down to Rodwell himself or whether his team-mates over the years must share some of the blame.

It is nothing short of embarrassing for a player that was once regarded as a promising talent after breaking through under Moyes at Everton, although fans that have watched him play will know that Rodwell does not exactly stamp his authority on the game and is more content to just float by anonymously.

It is certainly a downgrade on last season's midfield for Sunderland, who yesterday started with Rodwell, Ndong and an ageing Pienaar, who cannot be expected to carry his fellow midfielders when he is approaching the end of his career.

It makes you wonder whether summer target Yann M'Vila will want to return to the Stadium of Light in January as it was reported he was going to do so during the transfer window, but you wouldn't blame the Frenchman if he stayed well away.

This is now Sunderland's worst ever start to a Premier League season

Yesterday's defeat leaves Sunderland rock bottom of the Premier League with just two points from a possible 27, signalling the club's worst ever start to a season in the top-flight. Fans who thought that the club would see some stability at the end of last season are now preparing themselves for another season of struggle that could end in their team finally falling through the trapdoor.

With Southampton in the EFL Cup the club's next fixture, fans have the chance to distract themselves from the league for 90 minutes as Sunderland have an opportunity to make it to the quarter-finals of the tournament before facing Arsenal at home in the Premier League next weekend.