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Time for Asamoah Gyan to show class in Premiership

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Asamoah Gyan - The Stars' key striker

The goals of just two players have been carrying the charge for Sunderland. Asamoah Gyan, and Darren Bent. Now with Bent’s 32 goals in 58 appearances (8 this season) gone, Gyan will be looked at as the primary source of goals for the Black Cats. Is the Ghanaian sensation up to the task?

As Gyan himself put it in a recent SkySports interview posing the same question “Football is not about talking, it is demonstrated on the field. I don’t believe in talking too much”

Well, the matter I believe goes deeper than that.

The best spell for Gyan has been while Bent was out injured so naturally the latter’s exit must be seen as an opportunity for the Ghanaian to finally assume the mantle, if he can stay fit. It is instructive to point out that without Bent Sunderland beat Stoke 2-0 (Gyan scored twice), had a 1-1 draw at Spurs (Gyan with the equalizer) and produced pure class to upset Chelsea 3-0 at Stanford Bridge (Gyan scored one). The statistics get even more exciting after his late equalizer against Newcastle. Asamoah Gyan’s Premier stats read 19 games, 7 goals, 2 assists and 46 shots.

Guardian writer Jonathan Wilson rightfully concludes on Steve Bruce’s options that “He (Bruce) can play Gyan as a lone striker with Welbeck to one side and another wide player…to the other…or he can play 4-4-2 with Welbeck just off Gyan, as he was at Chelsea”.

Danny Welbeck who seems to have struck an understanding with GYAN better than Bent ever did and linked better with the Ghanaian (see Gyan’s goal in the Sunderland-Spurs game) is reportedly out for up till 6 weeks after undergoing an exploratory knee surgery. But then even when he returns, the issue of whether in the long run he remains as Gyan’s sidekick in Sunderland’s attacking set up is very much dependent on Fergie’s preference to retain him at United or make his Sunderland stay permanent.

Asamoah Gyan has shown his strengths as finisher, with his back to the goal and as a lone striker and in such a role he’s excelled in his ability to hold up the ball nicely and let others play off him. For me is he was undoubtedly Africa’s most outstanding performer in 2010… but Gyan is certainly not the most prolific striker around nor has he ever been your 20-goal per season striker (like Didier Drogba or Samuel Eto’o Fils).

At Udinese, Gyan flourished in a partnership featuring the now highly rated Antonio Di Natale and Fabio Quagliarella, he raked in the lowest tally (11 out of 39 appearances) of the trio. That is not to say he underperformed, no. He was the workaholic in the strike force. It was his goals, contribution to play and his sacrificial role for the other two to take the glory that made him so effective. At Rennes Gyan managed 14 goals in 48 appearances (most of it in one season) in a stint strewn with injuries.

Unfortunately for Gyan, in the current circumstances the Sunderland fans in the wake of the Bent migration would only look up to just one saviour for goals in their charge for a European place-the £ 13 million worth ASAMOAH GYAN! It’s a big task for the Baby Jet, a task whose fulfillment would be dependent on two key factors.

The first is Gyan’s ability to avoid the niggling injuries that have often dogged his career. Second, is if Steve Bruce quickly acquires another attacker to replace Bent. That would not only allow the Black Cats to play a 4-4-2 with Gyan both creating and being created for, but it would also ensure the Ghanaian stays free of injuries since Gyan as a sole source of goal threat is an easy target for the tough tackling opposing Premiership Defenders. Even more importantly leaving Gyan alone upfront may make Sunderland too predictable in attack, thus easier to stop from scoring. Another attacker gives Steve Bruce options upfront.

The rest of Sunderland’s season is set to be a test of the Baby Jet coming into his own. It is a test whose results could cement Asamoah Gyan’s arrival as a world class striker.

Sammy Bartels

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