SUNDERLAND are considering sticking with their experimental 5-3-2 formation for Monday’s crunch clash against West Ham.
Head coach Gus Poyet sprang a surprise at Liverpool on Wednesday night when he trialed a new system in a bid to thwart the free-scoring title-challengers.
Even though Sunderland succumbed to a fourth defeat in five Premier League outings, there was a marked improvement in the Black Cats’ performance.
But despite the formation incorporating an extra defender, first-team coach Charlie Oatway does not necessarily believe it would be a negative step to continue with five at the back, particularly considering how close they came to nicking a point.
And Oatway admits Poyet and his coaching staff are contemplating whether to stick with the new approach for Monday’s visit of the Hammers, in a game where Sunderland can ill-afford to register anything less than victory.
“I think with the outcome at Liverpool and the way we played, it’s certainly something we can look at,” Oatway said.
“We’re under no illusions, Liverpool missed a couple of chances. But overall over the 90 minutes, we gave a good account.
“Even considering the attacking options, the formation worked.
“It wasn’t as if we sat back and did what we’ve had done to us at the Stadium of Light a couple of times this season. We caused them a few problems.
“You’re playing with wing-backs, they’re not full-backs.
“They start off higher up the pitch so it gives you that bit of extra width in certain aspects.
“It’s definitely not something to throw out of the window.”
Poyet had considered using five at the back for the Capital One Cup final earlier this month before ultimately opting to stick with the 4-1-4-1 formation which he has favoured since arriving at the Stadium of Light in October.