What can Sunderland learn from their last game against Southampton?

The Black Cats will look to cut out silly mistakes when they take on the Saints in the Premier League on Saturday.

What can Sunderland learn from their last game against Southampton?
Sam Allardyce shows his disappointment as Yann M'Vila gives away a silly penalty. | Photo: Reuters

Sunderland lost 1-0 to Southampton earlier this season, but what could they learn from that game, heading into the reverse this weekend?

Don't gift goals

It was a tight affair when these two met at the Stadium Of Light back in October, with one goal enough to settle the match.

The crucial moment in that match came 20 minutes from time when Yann M'Vila foolishly dove into a challenge on Ryan Bertrand in the box, who was happy to take the contact and go down, leading to Dusan Tadic calmly finishing from the penalty spot.

Sunderland need to be much wiser this time round and avoid committing silly mistakes like this - which they have done frequently this year.

Pantilimon couldn't stop Tadic's decisive penalty. | Photo: Getty
Pantilimon couldn't stop Tadic's decisive penalty. | Photo: Getty

Helping each other out in defence

The reverse fixture between these two was only the fourth game of Sam Allardyce's managerial career at Sunderland. The match also arrived just after the Mackems had lost 6-2 at Everton, a defeat in which their defence was shocking. Therefore, going into the Saints game, improving at the back was a big focus.

These words of warning certainly had an effect as Sunderland really dug in at the back to hold out for as long as they did in a game where Southampton certainly dominated things. For example, now former goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon was twice beaten by attempts on goal, but had defenders DeAndre Yedlin and Sebastian Coates to thank for clearing said efforts off the line.

Things have changed aplenty since this clash, but Allardyce will be hoping for the same commitment and solidarity at the back to be on show.

Be more positive

This was yet another game this season where you could excuse Allardyce of being too defensive from the outset of a game and simply looking to set the team up not to lose, instead of going out to win the match.

At the time of this game though, this was understandable as he'd just took over at the club. As well as this, one must consider how leaky they'd been the previous week.

However, going into this match against Ronald Koeman's side, Sunderland have to be more positive and look to win the game instead of just simply surviving at St Mary's. The Black Cats are only outside the relegation zone on goal difference and need wins, not draws, to survive. Allardyce has targeted five wins from their 10 games left, and they need to start on the South Coast.

Sunderland are more capable now to be more positive too, due to the players at their disposal. The likes of Jermain Defoe, Wahbi Kazri, Dame N'Doye and Fabio Borini have all made an attacking impact in recent weeks and will hope to continue tomorrow. Whether all of these players start is another matter though, with Allardyce favouring certain systems.