If Gus Poyet had offered Sebastian Coates the opportunity to hand-pick a preferred opponent against which to make his Premier League debut for Sunderland, it is unlikely that he would have plumped for Manchester City.
With Sergio Aguero in red-hot form and with the defending champions starting to move through the gears in the defence of their crown, why would he have put himself that situation?
It was, however, against City on Wednesday night that the Uruguayan was handed his top-flight bow for the Black Cats – cheers boss!
Rather inevitably, it was to be a baptism of fire for a man secured by Poyet on a season-long loan from Liverpool over the summer.
Containing Manuel Pellegrini’s enviable array of attacking talent was never going to be easy, particularly for a man easing his way back from injury struggles and one with limited experience of English football to his name – having spent much of his time at Anfield out of favour.
|Match||Goals Conceded||Fouls||Challenge Lost||Duel Lost||Mins Played|
|Sebastián Coates||Sunderland vs Man City||4||1||2||3||90|
|John O'Shea||Sunderland vs Man City||4||0||0||0||90|
|Anthony Réveillere||Sunderland vs Man City||4||0||1||4||90|
|Santiago Vergini||Sunderland vs Man City||4||2||1||3||90|
Coates and those alongside him in the Sunderland back four struggled to get to grips with Aguero and co in midweek, with the free-scoring Argentine eluding them on two occasions to take his tally for the season to 14.
Failing to keep tabs on one of world football’s most in-form frontmen can be forgiven, but a struggle to match City on a physical level is harder to gloss over.
Coates is a big man, standing at six foot five inches tall, so it comes as something of a surprise to find that he came off second best in two tackles and three duels.
This was, however, his first Premier League outing for the club and he will hope to catch in the eye in less taxing challenges to come – although he is to find himself heading back to the sidelines this weekend as Sunderland prepare to take in a trip to Merseyside to face his parent club.