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Sunderland: Aiden O’Brien frustrates vs Blackpool

In the space of eight rapid days, Sunderland have gone from being the favourites to promotion to a team in free-fall.

Things are never done easily at the Stadium of Light and the last week has been a perfect representation.

With two games in hand, automatic promotion was well and truly in Sunderland’s control. However, three straight defeats in League One have left Lee Johnson and the club sweating over their future.

They are now eight points behind Peterborough in third place while Lincoln are only three points off the Mackems with a game in hand.

You can excuse the defeat to fellow promotion hopefuls Charlton but their performances in the last few games have left a lot to be desired. Catastrophic defending let them down against Wigan but their finishing was the issue this time around.

Is O'Brien good enough for the starting XI?

No chance

No chance

Of course

Of course

Johnson’s men enjoyed 67% of the ball against Blackpool and had six more attempts at goal than the hosts. However, it was the Tangerines who prevailed 1-0.

One of those players who let the manager down on Saturday was Aiden O’Brien. He didn’t start against Wigan but was brought back into the side this weekend.

Unfortunately, Johnson will be ruing that decision. The attacking midfielder didn’t ever look like scoring and once he’d been dragged off on 75 minutes, he’d failed to have a single shot. You can never fault his work rate and desire but those were the only positives on Saturday.

O’Brien didn’t manage a dribble or take-on as he was constantly stopped in his tracks by a Blackpool defence which included the imperious Daniel Ballard.

The Arsenal loanee barely gave Sunderland a sniff, winning a colossal seven aerial duels.

He stifled O’Brien considerably, so much so that he managed just 16 passes and 25 touches. Both numbers were fewer than Mackems goalkeeper Lee Burge.

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Who is the player?

The 27-year-old was bullied and wasn’t too strong in the challenge, losing a whopping 62% of the duels he was involved in. This was a poor day at the office for a player who hasn’t always been a regular this term.

With that in mind, he will have to improve considerably. Johnson certainly isn’t short of options in a forward position, after all.

AND in other news, SAFC flop has seen his value rise by £7.2m after leaving, he’s “excellent” in Europe…

Article title: Sunderland: Aiden O’Brien frustrates vs Blackpool

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