Keeping 11 men on the field
For around 40 minutes of the Sunderland vs West Ham game at the Stadium Of light, the hosts were playing their best football of the season and took a 2-0 lead, which included a wonderful Jeremain Lens chip. The same player though effectively cost the Black Cats the game when early in the second half he was sent off for a second bookable offence.
This crucial moment came about because of two pieces of stupidity from the winger, who got his first yellow card for dissent before being given his marching orders because he tried to tackle Dimitri Payet from behind when on a booking. The Hammers were therefore gifted a way back into the game and could have easily stolen all the points on the day.
Cutting out individual mistakes
However despite the obvious disadvantage of playing with 10 men for nearly half the match, both goals that were conceded on the day were avoidable and came from individual mistakes.
The first goal, which came at a damaging time just before the interval, was a sloppy one defensively as right back Billy Jones got caught out of position and allowed the low cross to come in. Then, the likes of John O'Shea were frozen in the middle, when they could have cut the ball out in some way.
Meanwhile the second one was another shocker at the back as then number one and the now departed Costel Pantilimon spilled a moderately powerful shot from distance, which fell straight to Payet to easily slot home.
Being more clinical
Yes it was a great first half performance from Sunderland in what turned out to be Dick Advocaat's last game in charge, but they could have had this game won before half time by adding to their two earlier goals. Fabio Borini who played really well in the match, but missed a real sitter after wonderful build up play between him and the now departed Steven Fletcher.
The former Liverpool man picked up the ball from deep and played it out wide to Lens before the ball reached him via a flick from Fletcher, which put him in a one on one situation. However, he rushed the finish and put the ball wide of the near post. If that chance had gone in, it would have been good night for Slaven Bilic's team.
Therefore, despite the personnel and the system being much different from the one which will be used on Saturday, there is plenty Allardyce can learn from that 2-2 draw back in October. It will be important for Sunderland to stay positive in trying to get their better players on the ball today, while still remaining disciplined at the back, but not putting everyone behind the ball against a talented West Ham side.