Sunderland travel to Norfolk on Sunday to face off against Norwich City at Carrow Road in the Championship off the back of three straight defeats.
The Black Cats have lost their last three games in the division – to Rotherham, Stoke, and Coventry – and conceded a staggering nine goals in those matches.
Tony Mowbray‘s side now face a Norwich team with three wins and eight goals scored in their last three outings in the league, which illustrates the size of the task facing them this weekend.
The Canaries lined up with a three-man midfield of Jacob Sorensen, Kenny McLean, and Gabriel Sara in their last match against Millwall and they combined for two goals and one assist.
Sunderland, meanwhile, deployed Dan Neil as their only recognised central midfielder, with attacking midfielders Alex Pritchard and Patrick Roberts filling out the midfield, in the 5-1 loss to Stoke.
Will Pierre Ekwah start vs Norwich?
The dominance that the Canaries could have in the middle of the park should lead to Mowbray altering his team by unleashing Pierre Ekwah to combat the potential threat of their opponents.
Should Pierre Ekwah start?
Since joining from West Ham United in January, the Frenchman has only made four appearances as a substitute in the Championship but the nature of the game on Sunday could be perfect for him to come in to solidify the midfield.
The rarely-seen gem, who was described as “all-action” by journalist Jonty Colman, could provide physicality and some defensive steel in the middle of the park in an attempt to stop the likes of Sara and Sorensen from dictating and deciding the match.
Mowbray once hailed the ace’s physique, saying:
“His left foot is really smooth, and yet I have been trying to encourage him to bring his physicality because he is a big lad – he’s not a small, skinny, frail, kid. He’s got huge physical attributes that he should bring to the party.”
The 21-year-old has not had an opportunity to showcase his quality in the first-team at Sunderland so far, with just the four cameos, but did catch the eye in the EFL Trophy for West Ham’s U21s earlier this season.
In three appearances in the competition, Ekwah averaged a Sofascore rating of 7.00 and made two tackles and interceptions per match whilst winning 54% of his duels.
This shows that the potential is there for the youngster to be an imposing force in midfield, whilst his two key passes per game in the EFL Trophy means that he could also provide a threat on the ball that forces the Norwich players to drop off to deal with his quality in possession.
Therefore, Ekwah must be unleashed from the start at Carrow Road to bolster Sunderland’s midfield and prevent another Stoke disaster from taking place.