Is Jan Kirchhoff the key to survival?
Posted by Paul David Sanderson | Published on March 27, 2016
Although Sunderland’s results have not changed since their shopping in January, the performances certainly have. New additions of Lamine Kone and Wahbi Khazri have brought life to what was looking like a dead team. However, there is one player who has brought that bit extra.
Jan Kirchhoff signed from Bayern Munich for a fee of less than one million pounds, and has been a star performer since joining in January. For many who don’t watch Sunderland, their judgement may be placed solely on his performance against Spurs, which was frankly a horrific debut performance. However, since then Kirchhoff has shown his quality. His ability to win the ball and retain it is what you would expect from an ex-Bayern player, but also his ability to launch an attack with one pass.
The 6ft 5 German is a commanding figure in Sunderland’s midfield so it is hard to go unnoticed. He is always seems to be the most composed and disciplined midfielder on the pitch, which cannot be said for the midfielder Kirchhoff replaced in Lee Cattermole. He acts as protection to the back 4 and breaks up play. This was picked up on MOTD2 by pundit and ex-Newcastle player Alan Shearer after Sunderland’s 1-1 draw with Newcastle.
“Kirchhoff was brilliant for an hour,” Shearer said. “Newcastle couldn’t get through him. He was all over the park. For the majority of the time Newcastle tried to go through the middle of Sunderland, but they came into a wall. And that wall was Kirchhoff. Every time he was there.
He was just constant the whole game. He was just absolutely superb. He was brilliant.”
His effect on the team has been evident in the last two games he has played. As soon as Kirchhoff comes off the pitch, we lose the solidity that he brings and concede. This is the one problem with his game. He can’t last 90 minutes. He has played two full games and at the end of one he suffered from cramp. So to prevent the already injury prone German from getting injured, Allardyce has no choice but to bring him off.
As the Kirchhoff has not been called up for the Germany squad, he will have two weeks to work on his fitness. It is vital for him to improve his fitness in order to continue his good run for the full 90 minutes against West Brom and relegation rivals Norwich. Will he be able to stay fit? Only time will tell but with Kirchhoff in the team Sunderland’s defence looks solid and as a result, he could be the man to keep Sunderland in the Premier League this season.