Why DeAndre Yedlin's first Premier League start for Sunderland was so encouraging

DeAndre Yedlin Jermaine Jones

The 22-year-old Tottenham Hotspur loanee played the full 90 minutes of Saturday's 2-2 home draw with West Ham United at right-back.

While Sunderland’s Tottenham Hotspur loanee DeAndre Yedlin could not inspire his new side to a much needed victory on Saturday, there is a very good reason why his display against West Ham United should have fans encouraged.

The 22-year-old defender-come-winger, who joined the Black Cats on deadline day on a season-long deal, has been lauded for his attacking talents ever since he first burst onto the MLS scene with the Seattle Sounders in 2013 but, while he was not able to showcase those qualities on the weekend, he did manage to make a positive impression on the other side of the ball.

Making only his first Premier League start since joining Spurs from Seattle in January, the US international slotted in at right-back and proceeded to put in a solid defensive shift to help earn 10-man Sunderland a point following Jeremain Lens' 57th-minute sending-off.

Though he should have done better on Carl Jenkinson’s late first-half strike that halved the hosts' lead, he was not alone in that regard and otherwise did a good job of restricting Victor Moses’ influence for the 90 minutes, while recording two tackles, three clearances, four recoveries and an interception, as well as winning three duels and completing 81 per cent of his 21 passes.

 Vs West Ham Total TacklesTotal ClearancesDuels WonDuel SuccessInterceptionTotal PassesPassing AccuracyTouchesBall RecoveriesDispossessedMins Played
DeAndre Yedlin 2 3 3 42.86% 1 21 81% 43 4 0 90

That type of performance may not have been significant for some but, for Yedlin, it was certainly a massive step in the right direction given the criticism he has faced in the past about his defence.

Even when up against lesser competition in MLS, there were still serious questions about the Seattle-native’s ability both to read the game and defend one-on-one consistently and, while some promising cameos at the 2014 World Cup later earned him a high-profile switch to Tottenham, those decencies have since restricted him to just one 11-minute substitute appearance for Mauricio Pochettino’s men.

Now playing solely as a winger for the US national team, plenty have asked whether the 25-times capped speedster should make a full-time move to midfield in order to mask some of his weaknesses but performances like the one on the weekend indicate that those suggestions might be somewhat premature.

The test now will be to see whether he can produce the same kind of outing on a regular basis while also adding his attacking skills into the equation but, given his rapid progress over the past two seasons, it would be foolish to bet against him.

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