Sunderland, up until a couple of weeks ago, looked to be this season’s version of Aston Villa. They still might be. But unlike last season’s whipping boys, Sunderland have Jermain Defoe, and that could prove to make all the difference in the World. Sunderland have a guy that, at 34 years old, is the 3rd leading scorer in the Premier League (7 goals). He has hit the target the same number of times as Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku. He has scored more than Alexis Sanchez (6), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (6) and Harry Kane (5). THIS IS A 34 YEAR OLD PLAYING ON A TEAM THAT WAS ROOTED TO THE BOTTOM OF THE TABLE UNTIL LAST WEEK.
Defoe truly is remarkable. He has 7 Premier League seasons with a double digit goal tally to his name, and he seems a lock to make this year the 8th. Last week’s strike against Hull was his 150th Premier League goal. He found the mark 15 times last season for Sunderland. In a relegation battle. As a 33 year old. And he looks a great bet to exceed that total this year. This all comes after it seemed he was ready to ease into retirement with Toronto FC in the MLS in 2014. But the old man is raging against the dying of the light and he, along with a resurgent Victor Anichebe, has ignited Sunderland’s survival hopes.
2 wins in their last 2 games with Defoe contributing 2 goals and 2 assists and the Northern club have finally moved off the bottom of the table at the expense of Swansea City. The assists and his interplay with Anichebe over the last couple of weeks have possibly been the most exciting developments for Defoe owners at this point. He’s never been much of an assist man, but he has equalled his assist total from last season in these last two weeks, and both of them were to Anichebe. The big Nigerian provides a physical presence going forward that has allowed Defoe to drop into space at times and go from poacher to playmaker. If he can add a few more assists to his name this season, his fantasy points total should be outstanding.
Defoe also has that great knack of scoring in the toughest games. This season he’s scored away to Manchester City, away to Southampton and at home against Arsenal. With his experience and guile, the big occasion doesn’t appear to phase him. This works in his favor as the Black Cats face Liverpool away this coming week. David Moyes has never won at Anfield as a manager so I wouldn’t gamble on Sunderland making it 3 wins in a row. Defoe scoring in his 4th straight match is a much safer bet.
Since he arrived at the Stadium of Light, Defoe has been the only goal threat that Sunderland possessed. I don’t want to be accused of speaking too soon, but if recent weeks are anything to go by, they might have finally stumbled upon a player in Anichebe to assist in the goalscoring burden that Defoe has carried by himself for the last couple of seasons. That might free up more space, time and opportunities for the old man, which can only be a good thing.
Defoe is already an efficient player, averaging just 2.7 shots per game with 58% accuracy to score 7 goals in 12 games. For comparison, Romelu Lukaku averages 2.9 shots per game at 73% accuracy to score the same number of goals in a much more talented team with players that draw attention away from him. If Defoe is afforded more time and space to pick his spots courtesy of Anichebe and an improving Duncan Watmore, look out.
So we have a proven goalscorer playing in a team that finally appears to be finding it’s feet and helping him out a bit. Not enough to convince? He’s also the penalty taker for his team. Still need more? HE’S STILL ONLY LISTED AT £7.5M! THAT’S THE SAME PRICE AS CHRISTIAN BENTEKE, WHO HAS 34 FANTASY POINTS TO DEFOE’S 72! DEFOE IS AS OLD AS BENTEKE’S FANTASY POINTS! Get Defoe, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.