Sunderland’s 42 Goals Against: A Breakdown


Not content with the damage he’s done to our season so far, Papy Djilobodji has decided to contest his FA charge for violent conduct in the defeat to West Brom last weekend. 


The four match ban looked like providing a much needed bit of respite from the former Chelsea man, even without any other defenders available to throw in.

Now, Sunderland look to have Lamine Kone back from the African Cup of Nations, as well as new signing Joleon Lescott, however unwelcome his arrival seems to be.

Moyes has a big task ahead of him to stop the steady stream of goals flooding past the sticks, with the 42 conceded already this season only three better than at this stage last year.

Shockingly, that’s 10 worse than the 19-point season in 2002/03, and two worse than the 15-point season in 2005/06, where we had just six points by this point.

Djilobodji has taken his share of the criticism for a bulk of those conceded, as has supposed-Crystal Palace target Patrick van Aanholt, but who’s errors have cost Sunderland more dearly this season?

Looking through every one of those 42, it’s time to point the finger of blame.

Papy Djilobodji

It will surprise no one to find the Senegalese defender featuring so prominently in this list. 

At £8million, you’d expect there’d be some hint of defensive quality somewhere in there, but the evidence is strongly overwhelming. 

Measuring in at 6ft 3ins, Djilobodji is the most inept aerial presence seen in these parts for a long time, beaten for four of the eleven headed goals against so far, largely because of his dislike of standing remotely near to his man.

He also was the one to injure Jordan Pickford, which hasn’t helped matters either.

  • SAFC 0-3 Everton: Two of Romelu Lukaku’s hattrick, the easiest he’ll ever score, came at the expense of Djilobodji’s defensive credibility, with free headers a common occurance
  • Spurs 1-0 SAFC: A simple cross in requiring a boot up field. Naturally, standing on the edge of the six-yard box, Djilobodji attempts to take multiple touches before presenting the ball to Harry Kane for a tap in. 
  • SAFC 1-4 Arsenal:  Granted, not the worst header conceded in this game, but Giroud’s flick over Pickford, and Sanchez’s tap in inside the six-yard box both came with Djilobodji well-beaten.
  • SAFC 2-1 Leicester: Thankfully, this one didn’t cost us too much, as Shinji Okazaki got in front of Djilobodji to flick over Pickford and pull a goal back.
  • Swansea 3-0 SAFC: Another game, another free header. This time for Fernando Llorente.
  • Burnley 4-1 SAFC: Easily the worst game of his career, which is quite an achievement itself. All three of Andre Gray’s hattrick came as a result of Djilobodji’s mistakes. Firstly leaving Gray to clatter John O’Shea in the air, then to lose him twice more from through balls.

Total errors leading to goals: 10

Patrick van Aanholt

The debate will go on as to whether Sunderland should sell van Aanholt this window, or if his attacking exploits are worth the defensive lapses. 

He’s scored three times, earning four points in total with a win over Watford and draw against West Brom, as well as the consolation in the Wear-Tees derby.

In terms of assists, he’s only recorded one so far, in the 3-0 win over Hull back in November.

  • Manchester City 2-1 SAFC: The opening day of the season. So much hope and optimism. How far away that seems now. van Aanholt ensured the campaign got off to a cracker by foolishly sliding into Raheem Sterling for a penalty, which Sergio Aguero duly scored.
  • SAFC 1-2 Middlesbrough: He did score afterwards, but the Dutchman’s backing off Cristhian Stuani allowed him to ping it into the top corner from range.
  • SAFC 2-3 Crystal Palace: van Aanholt’s poor clearance seconds after Jermain Defoe had put us 2-0 up saw Joe Ledley lash home, before his weak challenge allowed James McArthur to equalise late on.
  • Stoke 2-0 SAFC: Having lost his man entirely at the cross, van Aanholt was helpless to stop Joe Allen slotting home for the opener. 
  • Bournemouth 1-2 SAFC: We actually fell behind in what ultimately proved to be our first win of the season, after van Aanholt was caught out of position. Adam Smith crossed and Dan Gosling tapped home.
  • West Brom 2-0 SAFC: Just last week, with his head seemingly already back with Sam Allardyce, van Aanholt gave Darren Fletcher all the time in the world inside the box to control, turn and volley into the net.

Total errors leading to goals: 7 

Lamine Kone

The Ivory Coast man has been a shadow of the defender so instrumental in keeping us up last year.

His partnership with Djilobodji is a disaster and has only worsened his own game.

And yet we’re still desperate for his return.

  • SAFC 1-1 West Brom: Fresh from the contract saga, Kone’s performances on the pitch weren’t doing him any favours, and Nacer Chadli raced ahead of him to fire past Pickford in this one.
  • SAFC 1-4 Arsenal: Kone is 6ft 1in. Alexis Sanchez is 5ft 5ins. Of course the Arsenal man beat Kone in the air to score. Giroud also got the better of him to flick past Pickford himself, seconds after coming on.
  • Swansea 3-0 SAFC: Our inability to defend corners has been exploited time and again this season, and Llorente’s first in this game came as he reached a low ball ahead of Kone.

Total errors leading to goals: 4

Jason Denayer

The Manchester City loanee settled into midfield comfortably enough at the start, but his performances have steadily been in decline.

The growing frustration with the Belgian isn’t helped by the lack of replacements available.

  • Swansea 3-0 SAFC: Despite raising his hands well above his head, Denayer seemed stunned when the hosts were awarded a penalty for him handling Wayne Routledge’s cross.
  • Manchester United 3-1 SAFC: After failing to track the run of Daley Blind, Denayer couldn’t get close enough to stop him opening the scoring after a promising first half display. It was then his sloppy, intercepted pass which led to Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s wonder goal, even if it was offside.
  • SAFC 1-3 Stoke: In the game where frustrations at Denayer reached boiling point, his woeful performance included giving possession away cheaply, paving the way for Marko Arnautovic’s opener.
Total errors leading to goals: 4

Didier Ndong

The club’s record signing continues to divide opinion among fans, and his occasional mistakes aren’t helping his reputation.

  • Liverpool 2-0 SAFC: 1-0 down after a battling performance, and Ndong ends the day by tripping Sadio Mane in the box, allowing James Milner to score from the spot.
  • Manchester United 3-1 Sunderland: His sloppy one-two with Kone on the halfway line was intercepted, and Ndong watched Zlatan Ibrahimovic score as he continued to lie perfectly still up field.
  • SAFC 2-2 Liverpool: Another goal from a corner, as Daniel Sturridge lost Ndong to head past Mannone inside the six-yard box.

Total errors leading to goals: 3

Vito Mannone

The Italian hasn’t covered himself in glory since returning to the side, and there’s a number of goals he should be doing better with, obscured from too much scrutiny only by the struggles of those in front of him.

  • SAFC 1-3 Stoke: While he certainly should be doing better at his near post for Arnautovic’s opener, his hesitant jump with Peter Crouch was diabolical. 
  • West Brom 3-0 SAFC: In case we don’t deal with crosses badly enough anyway, Mannone’s fumbled palm away led to Chris Brunt slamming the rebound in.

Total errors leading to goals: 2+

Donald Love

In fairness to the youngster, there have been hints of improvement of late, but that wasn’t too difficult given how atrociously he started the season.

  • SAFC 1-2 Middlesbrough: Learning from van Aanholt, Love was caught well out of position, allowing Alvaro Negredo to pull it back for Stuani’s second.
  • SAFC 2-2 Liverpool: Drawn to the ball, Love left Mane alone at the back post for an easy tap in.

Total errors leading to goals: 2

The Rest

Jordan Pickford: His mistake vs Southampton saw two points dropped, but given how many he’s saved this season it’s easily forgiven.

Javier Manquillo: Gave Lukaku his first free header of the night back in September’s 3-0 defeat.

Jan Kirchhoff: His failure to mark Palace’s biggest aerial presence saw them grab a 90th minute winner.

Seb Larsson: His foul on Scott Arfield in the 4-1 defeat to Burnley was borne out of sheer frustration, but was a penalty nonetheless.
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