Sunderland have experienced a relatively inconsistent start to this Premier League campaign under Steve Bruce. The Black Cats have seen such highs as home victories against both Liverpool and Arsenal as well as gaining a point at Old Trafford however, have also lost to the inconsistent Wigan Athletic and Owen Coyle’s Burnley. Much of Sunderland’s success can be attributed to the form of England striker Darren Bent, who has been nothing short of prolific this term, having already bagged 10 goals. Bent has scored 40% of Sunderland’s goals this season and it therefore begs the question; are Steve Bruce’s men too reliant on Darren Bent?
Bent has proved that he is the quality striker that he promised to be during his time at Charlton and Ipswich. He has appeared to have put his Tottenham misery behind him and his partnership with Andy Reid has produced an array of goals this season. Bent is already a fan favourite with the Sunderland faithful yet he has been out of form recently, having only scored 2 in his last 10 Premier League games. Is there a coincidence that since Bent has begun firing less regularly, Sunderland have begun dropping points?
The Black Cats have seen their European charge halted in recent weeks having only picked up a solitary point in their last five games. If Steve Bruce’s side are going to aim for a top eight finish this campaign then Bent’s striking partners need to begin to contribute as the England man cannot be relied upon to continue this form for the duration of the season.
Summer signing Frazier Campbell has disappointed after his £3.5 million move from Manchester United and is yet to score a league goal despite making 10 appearances. Campbell is still only 22 years of age but is yet to prove that he can cut it in the Premier League with his only prolific spells coming in the Championship and abroad. You can’t help but feel that when partnered with Bent, the responsibility of scoring goals is thoroughly on Bent’s shoulders.
Bent’s regular striking partner, Kenwyne Jones, has been out-of-favour this season and despite scoring six times in the league, the former Southampton man has been largely disappointing. He was dropped for the recent game against Manchester City and it seems as though his substitute goal has not helped matters as Bruce has today stated that he will listen to offers for the striker in January. If Jones was to leave in the January window then Bruce should make it his number one priority to replace him with a top class striker who could support Bent in the Sunderland attack.
Sunderland currently lie in 10th position in the Premier League but have been on a torrid run as of late and Bruce will be hoping that he can use the Christmas period to turn his sides fortunes around. The bottom line is that there is too much weight on Darren Bent’s shoulders at the Stadium of Light and he needs more support from his striking team-mates. Frazier Campbell, in my opinion, is not up to the task of starting for anything short of a mediocre Premier League side and thus should be no more than back-up at Sunderland. If Kenwyne Jones is to stay with the Black Cats then he will need to settle his differences with Bruce and regain his form. He has shown us in previous seasons that he has the potential to be a great striker, his goals last term all but kept Sunderland in the league. I am led to believe he is a popular figure with the Sunderland faithful and if he can regain form then Sunderland could well develop a strike force that could send them into the Europa League. But if they continue to rely on Bent and the England striker hits a baron spell then they could well find themselves sliding down the table.