Sunderland: Did the Black Cats really show 'a lack of effort'? We crunch the stats

Sunderland
Sunderland's defeat by Swansea was their 24th of the season

"Lazy, disgraceful and pathetic," was how Alan Shearer described Sunderland in their 2-0 home defeat by Swansea at the weekend.

The Match of the Day pundit did not hold back in his criticism, blasting the players for a "complete lack of effort" during the defeat, which came a week after a 2-0 win against Hull.

When those comments were put to Black Cats boss David Moyes, he replied he was "privy to the stats" and "couldn't disagree" with Shearer.

So we decided - with help from our friends at Opta - to have a look and the stats ourselves. Here's what they say:

(*All stats are before Sunderland's 2-0 defeat to Arsenal on Tuesday)

Black Cats fail to put the metres in against Swansea

Sunderland were already relegated when they travelled to Hull on 6 May and registered just their sixth league win of the season.

Their performance seven days later against Swansea was in complete contrast to the win at the Kcom, so let's start with how far they ran in those two games.

The stats do show a drop off against Swansea.

Against Hull, Moyes' side ran 110.59km, above their season average of 107.24km and 1.4km further than the Tigers' players.

But a week later they ran 8.98km less against Swansea, clocking 101.61km, well down on their season average and 5.2km less than Paul Clement's side.

From their 36 games, Sunderland have run 3,860.50km, the second lowest in the league. However, their average distance run per game puts them a place higher at third from bottom.

Man Utd bring up the rear

Jose Mourinho's side have covered 3,819.68km, at an average of 106.10km - the fewest in the league.

Distractions of the Europa League? Mourinho's tactics? Whatever is going on at Old Trafford, it is having a severe effect on their distances run this season.

They feature four times in the lowest metres covered this season.

Who have been the least mobile in a game this season?

That accolade goes to Southampton in their 3-0 defeat by Crystal Palace in December.

The Saints ran just 94.1km - the least ground covered in the league in a single game this season.

Overall, Sunderland feature three times when it comes to the least number of metres made in a game, with Saturday's defeat by Swansea some way from the bottom of this category.

In fact there have been 16 occasions when teams, including themselves, have run less than the Black Cats managed on Saturday.

Back in December they ran for 100.3km - again against Swansea - in a 3-0 defeat.

And in a 3-0 defeat by Manchester United in April, they ran even less, clocking just 98.9km - although even that is only the fifth lowest aggregate distance covered by a team this season.

Lowest km in a match 2016-17 season
Southampton v Crystal Palace (3/12/16) lost 3-0 94.1kmHull City v Liverpool (24/09/16) lost 5-1 100.3km
Stoke v Southampton (14/12/16) drew 0-0 97.5kmSunderland v Swansea (10/12/16) lost 3-0 100.3km
Everton v Crystal Palace (30/09/16) drew 1-1 98.1kmHull v Watford (22/04/17) won 2-0 100.7km
Crystal Palace v West Brom (13/08/16) lost 1-0 98.5kmManchester United v Sunderland (9/4/17) won 3-0 100.9km
Sunderland v Manchester United (9/4/17) lost 3-0 98.9kmCrystal Palace v Sunderland (4/2/17) lost 4-0 101.1km
Middlesbrough v Bournemouth (22/4/17) lost 4-0 98.9kmManchester United v Chelsea (16/04/17) won 2-0 101.3km
Manchester United v Watford (18/9/16) lost 3-1 98.9kmSouthampton v Sunderland (27/8/16) drew 1-1 101.4km
Manchester United v Manchester City (27/4/17) drew 0-0 99.5kmSunderland v Swansea (13/05/16) lost 2-0 101.6km
Crystal Palace v Everton (30/09/16) drew 1-1 99.6km

But does a lack of running mean a lack of effort? That's hard to say.

Of the bottom 17 performances by teams in terms of distance run in a game this season, nine resulted in defeat, five were draws and three ended in a win.

The lowest total covered by a winning team was the 100.7km produced by Hull when they beat Watford in April.

What about individual Sunderland players?

Italian striker Fabio Borini was the marathon man in the win over Hull, running 11.5km, way above his season average of 9.08 km. He was one of three players that ran over 11km, ahead of George Honeyman and Didier Ndong.

But only one player ran above 11km against Swansea and that was Swedish midfielder Sebastian Larsson - who had only played 11 minutes of the win at the Kcom.

Against Hull, Moyes only made two substitutions and the nine players who played the full 90 minutes ran an average of 11.5km.

Three substitutions were made against Swansea, two of them enforced, and the eight players who played from start to finish ran 9.9km on average.

Evergreen Defoe

Where would Sunderland have been without Jermain Defoe?

They may be bottom of the league but at least the 34-year-old gave them goals to cheer.

He scored 15 of the team's 28 league goals this season and in addition to topping the Black Cats' goal charts he also is the man who will literally go the extra mile for his team.

Defoe is the only Sunderland player to feature in all 36 of the Black Cats games this season and he has run 334.90km, at an average of 9.30km a game - more than 35km more than the nearest player.

Midfielder Didier Ndong is second on the list, having run 299.6km, but he has the highest average of the squad at 9.9km.

Jordan Pickford has been Sunderland's saviour in goal but he also does his fair share of running, having covered 126.57km in his 27 games, at an average of 4.69km.

And despite being a keeper he has run further than 15 of Sunderland's squad.

Marathon men

Eleven kilometres per game? That is nothing for the league's marathon man, who must have been born with a third lung, but no Sunderland players feature in the top 10.

Spurs' Christian Eriksen has the highest average this season at 11.97km, while Swansea's Gylfi Sigurdsson has covered the most ground, at 422.4km.

Less sprinting, less effort?

Again Borini was the star performer when it came to sprints against Hull with 75 - one of three players to sprint over 70 times at the Kcom. But against Swansea he only completed 47.

Larsson was the standout sprinter in that match with 63 and Billy Jones was the only other player to complete over 60 sprints against the Swans.

As a team Sunderland sprinted 563 times against Hull, nine more than their opponents.

But against Swansea that figure was 433, 130 less than a week before and 45 less than the Swans.

The Black Cats average 506.64 sprints per game, which puts them ninth in the sprint league. Liverpool again top that list with 588.89 per game, while West Ham prop the league up with 483.97.

Defoe again has made the most sprints this season for Sunderland with 1,613, while Duncan Watmore averages the most in the Black Cats squad with 61.79 per game.

So is Shearer right?

The left pitch shows the average positions for Sunderland against Hull and right, against Swansea
The left pitch shows the average positions for Sunderland against Hull and right, against Swansea

Against Hull, Sunderland enjoyed 40.5% of possession and they played deeper than against Swansea, when they had 58% of possession.

What is clear is that they ran less and sprinted less at Swansea than against Hull.

Moyes was "incredibly disappointed" with the performance and ultimately the players will know themselves if they didn't put in the required effort.

Top Stories