A Scott Sinclair brace was not enough to earn Tim Sherwood's men their second league win of the season, as the Black Cats escaped Villa Park with a point.
Gestede is no Benteke
Aside from a few decent flick-ons, the towering striker provided little impact up top, while he also wasted two gleaming chances to earn Villa three points in the final 10 minutes with a weak header and scuffed shot.
After netting the winner in the season opener at Bournemouth, the former Blackburn Rovers man looked primed to make a seamless transition to life in the top-flight, but the past few games have since proven otherwise.
He certainly has all the tools at his disposal to eventually become a key figure in the line-up but, if Tim Sherwood thought he was going to be able to depend on him to get goals right from the off, then it seems he was somewhat mistaken.
A deadline day rush for goals?
With fellow new boy Jordan Ayew and the long-serving Gabby Agbonlahor also struggling for form, there’s reason to fear that Villa could be in trouble if another striker doesn’t arrive before the transfer deadline.
Sherwood clearly can’t rely on Scott Sinclair to bail his side out every week and, with neither Gestede nor Libor Kozak able to offer the same kind of impact as the departed Christan Benteke, it’s difficult to see who else is going to step up to replace the Belgian’s goals.
Fans are understandably split over whether Emmanuel Adebayor would be a good buy but, with Charlie Austin still available, making a last-minute move for the Queens Park Rangers hitman seems like an absolute no-brainer.
Villa miss their fledgling stars
The pair both missed the match after picking up injuries in the week and their absence was more than noticeable, as Villa lacked a clear creative spark in the attacking third when searching for the winner.
Carles Gil’s 68th-minute introduction did make somewhat of a difference but even Sherwood suggested after the match that the result could have been different with the two wide men in the line-up.
“Obviously we didn’t want to miss them today but the good thing is that we’ve got an international break now, so they’ll have time to rest and hopefully we can get them back,” he told AVTV. “It would have been very interesting, with the space we had out there today, if we had the likes of Adama and Jack – they would have relished that.”
On the face of it, relying on a couple of up-and-coming 19-year-olds to get the job done seems like a recipe for disaster but, as most fans know by now, Grealish and Adama aren’t your average prospects.
Gana be great
While Gestede may have struggled on Saturday, another summer signing was arguably Villa’s star man on the afternoon.
Idrissa Gana Gueye showed precisely why Villa forked out £9 million for his signature, as the former Lille midfielder ran the show from the centre of the park with a dominant all-round performance.
Always eager to drive things forward, the Senegal international was full of energy throughout the match and looked a real threat in the attacking third with his passing and movement – while also putting in a solid defensive shift.
His initial displays for the club have been hit-and-miss so far but the quality he showed against Sunderland suggests that Fabian Delph will not be missed going forward.
The Rock lives up to his nickname
Though Carlos Sanchez wasn’t quite as impressive as his midfield teammate against Sunderland, the Colombia international still staked his claim for a regular starting place with another excellent outing.
Having given a good account of himself in last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at Crystal Palace, the 29-year-old was handed a second straight league start for the visit of Dick Advocaat's men and performed his understated but pivotal role to a tee.
Sitting in front of the back four, the ex-Elche man ensured that Villa remained solid defensively as Ashley Westwood and Gana were given more license to push forward and, unlike last season, he also kept things neat and simple in possession.
His first campaign at the club was one full of up and downs but, having since shown his class in marking Neymar out of the Copa America this summer – literally, “The Rock” could well end up proving a key player in Sherwood’s plans this term.