Darron Gibson’s Sunderland verdict: We dropped far too deep and Southampton punished us

Darron Gibson rises to head clear against Southampton, watched by Saints Oriol Romeu. Picture by Frank Reid
Darron Gibson rises to head clear against Southampton, watched by Saints Oriol Romeu. Picture by Frank Reid

Darron Gibson echoed his manager’s frustration after Sunderland failed to build on a promising opening against Southampton.

The Black Cats looked confident in the opening quarter of Saturday’s game, moving the ball well and pressing the visitors whenever possible.

Gibson was a key part of that, largely looking composed on the ball, as he had done on his debut as a substitute at Crystal Palace the previous week.

Sunderland failed to create a clear opportunity, however, and went on to collapse in frustrating fashion, succumbing to a 4-0 home defeat.

The Irish midfielder felt the Wearsiders didn’t respond well to going behind, not getting as high up the pitch as they had in the opening exchanges.

Gibson said: “It was disappointing.

“I thought we started well in the in the game, though.

“First 25 minutes, we were on top, and then obviously they scored and it changed the game really.

“It put us on the back foot a bit and I think we dropped too deep.”

The 29-year-old lasted 81 minutes on his full Sunderland debut, which was one of the few positives of a frustrating afternoon for the hosts.

Gibson has already seen the two extremes of Sunderland in his short time on Wearside, from the high of the demolition of Palace at Selhurst Park to this collapse of their own just seven days later.

While acknowledging that his side had not performed, Gibson was quick to praise EFL Cup finalists Southampton.

The visitors were lucky that their first goal was allowed to stand, Manolo Gabbiadini clearly forcing the ball in with his arm, but from there on in, they were by far the better side in both their use of possession and movement off the ball.

Claude Puel’s men had come into the game in a poor run of form, just one in in seven Premier League matches, but never looked back from that opener.

Gibson also said that taking the lead suited the Saints, whose fleet-footed front three looked more comfortable playing on the break than forcing the issue.

Left-back Ryan Bertrand grew into the game and led Saints’ transition to attack impressively.

Gibson said: “It could be a confidence issue, but I know it’s no excuse but they’re a good team.

“If you give them space and time to play, they’re very good.

“They know what they’re doing and they’re well organised.

“It was a bit of both – we weren’t good enough for a big period of the game, but they were very good.

“We can take some positives out of the first 25 minutes, but, overall, we weren’t good enough.”