Leicester 2 Sunderland 0: Oblivion beckons as David Moyes'week goes from bad to worse

Jonathan Liew
Sunderland are facing almost certain relegation after yet another defeat - Rex Features

Oblivion beckons for Sunderland, and for their godforsaken manager David Moyes. The curtain is coming down on their giddy decade in the Premier League, and the misery of it is that it almost feels like a humane ending. Revolution or relegation are their only two options from here, and they may yet have to settle for both.

Leicester chose revolution, and it has worked handsomely for them. Here they effortlessly turned the screw in the second half to win their sixth consecutive game under Craig Shakespeare. While Moyes dithered, Shakespeare’s bold double substitution after 60 minutes swung a game in which it was not immediately apparent which side were bottom of the Premier League and which side the champions.

It may already be too late for Sunderland. Afterwards, like he does almost every week, Moyes praised the endeavour of his players and lamented the minor errors that cost them the game. “I thought we played well,” he said. “I thought we limited them.”

And it was true, in a way: for all their trials, rarely have Sunderland shirked the fight. But theirs is a low-grade, offcuts-and-gristle sort of effort, engaging the legs without really engaging the brain or the heart. The moment Leicester scored, Sunderland began to look every inch a team who have failed to score in nine of their last 10 matches. This is a club being hollowed out from the inside, a team with no ideas, no inspiration, and now eight points adrift of safety, no hope.

Islam Slimani heads Leicester in front Credit: Rex Features

For Moyes, assailed by accusations of sexism in recent days, this was a strong case for being removed from his job by more conventional means. Having spent much of the week on the defensive, it was fitting that he sent his team out to spoil, with four central midfielders clogging the centre like a hairball; including captain Lee Cattermole, returning after six months out injured.

But Sunderland were competing, without ever looking like scoring. While Riyad Mahrez struggled to get the ball in threatening areas, Jermain Defoe struggled to get the ball at all. Defoe is a fiercely clever striker, but time after time he made a smart run only to see the ball passed sideways. The frustration in his expression was that of a man with a fork in his top pocket, watching in exasperation as his companions eat spaghetti with their hands.

Occasionally, Sunderland could get the full-backs forward and roll the dice. A run of corners briefly had Sunderland’s masochistic travelling fans on their seat applauding in encouragement. But Shakepeare’s half-time soliloquy clearly had an effect. Leicester emerged for the second half looking several degrees sharper, raising the tempo and forcing Sunderland deeper.

A dejected Jermain Defoe looks on as Sunderland ship another goal Credit: Rex Features

Here was where the game was won and lost. On the hour, Shakespeare laid his cards on the table, introducing Islam Slimani and Marc Albrighton. Moyes, meanwhile, kept his hands in his pockets. With 20 minutes to go, both substitutes combined to put Leicester ahead, Albrighton’s cross met by the head of Slimani with Lamina Kone’s aerial challenge carrying all the enthusiasm of the third shepherd in a child’s nativity play.

Ten minutes too late, Moyes brought on Victor Anichebe, who hit the post with a sharp left-footed shot. But once you inject the serum of defeat into a team already addicted to it, the outcome becomes inevitable. Sunderland were going to lose. They knew it, and so did everyone else.

Jamie Vardy wheels away after doubling Leicester's lead Credit: Getty images

So, minutes later, did Billy Jones, who slipped in his own half and was devoured by a sprinting Albrighton. His cross was slammed home by Jamie Vardy, and as the stadium erupted the camera zoomed in on Moyes, sucking his teeth, pondering the tactical masterstroke that would swing the contest his way. After a moment’s thought, he brought on Darron Gibson.

“I thought it was quite a scrappy game,” Shakespeare said. “Sometimes as a manager, you make substitutions for a positive reason. Sometimes you make them to shore the game up. I’m really pleased with their impact.”

For Moyes, a week that began with scorn continues in the same vein. “You’re getting slapped in the morning,” the Leicester fans gleefully sang as the goals rained in. When a proud club becomes a punchline, something has gone very badly wrong.

6:29PM

Half time: Leicester 0-0 Sunderland

The half-time whistle blows at King Power Stadium.

6:29PM

Average touch positions (full time)

Average touch positions (full time) 6:29PM

Full time: Leicester 2-0 Sunderland

The final whistle blows at King Power Stadium.

6:28PM

The shot count is similar

Leicester and Sunderland are evenly matched in attack so far - the vistors have fired in seven shots to the hosts' five.

Leicester vs Sunderland shots on goal 6:28PM

It's been a shot-shy start to Leicester v Sunderland

Not much to do for either keeper at King Power Stadium - Leicester and Sunderland keeping each other at bay.

Leicester vs Sunderland shots on goal 6:28PM

Average touch positions (half time)

Average touch positions (half time) 6:28PM

Second half: Leicester 0-0 Sunderland

The second 45 has begun at King Power Stadium.

6:28PM

Neither side able to dictate the game so far

Leicester having more of the ball so far, with 177 touches to 166 from Sunderland.

Leicester vs Sunderland 6:28PM

GOAL!

Leicester have doubled their lead, and it's Jamie Vardy with the goal to make it 2-0.

Leicester 2 - 0 Sunderland (Jamie Vardy, 78 min) 6:28PM

Sunderland respond

The visitors have their first shot of the game, in reply to three so far from Leicester.

Leicester vs Sunderland shots on goal 6:28PM

GOAL!

Islam Slimani finally gets the breakthrough for Leicester - it's 1-0.

Leicester 1 - 0 Sunderland (Islam Slimani, 69 min) 6:28PM

Kick off: Leicester vs Sunderland

We're under way at King Power Stadium.

2:57PM

Second half: Watford 1-0 West Brom

The second 45 has begun at Vicarage Road.

2:57PM

Average touch positions (half time)

Average touch positions (half time) 2:57PM

Average touch positions (full time)

Average touch positions (full time) 2:57PM

GOAL!

West Brom up against it now - Troy Deeney makes it 2-0 to Watford.

Watford 2 - 0 West Brom (Troy Deeney, 49 min) 2:57PM

GOAL!

1-0! M'Baye Niang strikes to give Watford the early lead.

Watford 1 - 0 West Brom (M'Baye Niang, 13 min) 2:57PM

Full time: Watford 2-0 West Brom

It's all over at Vicarage Road.

2:57PM

Half time: Watford 1-0 West Brom

The teams head in at the break at Vicarage Road.

2:57PM

West Brom threaten for the first time

Following the earlier Watford effort, West Brom register their first attempt at goal.

Watford vs West Brom shots on goal 2:57PM

Red card! Miguel Britos sent off for Watford

Miguel Britos is sent off by referee Paul Tierney for his second bookable offence.

2:57PM

Watford enjoying plenty of touches of the ball so far.

Watford have had 145 touches of the ball compared to 55 by West Brom.

Watford vs West Brom 2:57PM

Kick off: Watford vs West Brom

We're under way at Vicarage Road.

11:25AM

Everton hit back

Everton register their first shot, in response to two so far from Man Utd.

Man Utd vs Everton shots on goal 11:25AM

Full time: Man Utd 1-1 Everton

It's all over at Old Trafford.

11:25AM

Average touch positions (full time)

Average touch positions (full time) 11:25AM

Second half: Man Utd 0-1 Everton

The action restarts at Old Trafford.

11:25AM

GOAL!

Everton take the lead, and it's Phil Jagielka with the goal: 0-1.

Man Utd 0 - 1 Everton (Phil Jagielka, 22 min) 11:25AM

GOAL!

Zlatan Ibrahimovic pops up with a late equaliser for Man Utd - it's 1-1.

Man Utd 1 - 1 Everton (Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 90 + 4 min) 11:24AM

Half time: Man Utd 0-1 Everton

The half-time whistle blows at Old Trafford.

11:24AM

Red card! Ashley Williams sent off for Everton

Referee Neil Swarbrick gives Ashley Williams his marching orders.

11:24AM

Average touch positions (half time)

Average touch positions (half time) 11:24AM

Kick off: Man Utd vs Everton

They're off and running at Old Trafford.

11:24AM

Neither Man Utd or Everton are testing the goalkeepers so far

Not much to do for either keeper at Old Trafford - Man Utd and Everton keeping each other at bay.

Man Utd vs Everton shots on goal

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