January can’t come quick enough for Sam Allardyce as he saw his Sunderland side battered 6-2 by Everton at Goodison Park.
Even going with a back-three couldn’t save the Black Cats as a ruthless and efficient Toffees team cut their defence to shreds on the counter.
It was Arouna Kone who played a star role for Roberto Martinez’s men, grabbing himself a hat-trick and a masterful assist.
Gerard Deulofeu and Romelu Lukaku also notched for the hosts, while Sebastian Coates put the ball into his goal, and all despite a rally from their opponents which saw Jermain Defoe and Steven Fletcher give them hope.
The Black Cats attacked from the off as they looked to carry on the momentum from their 3-0 victory over rivals Newcastle United and were nearly rewarded just four minutes in as Patrick van Aanholt hit the post.
And as they continued to dominate play at Goodison Park, Sunderland were then denied the opener as in one scramble Tim Howard saved from Jermain Defoe, Adam Johnson struck the upright and Seamus Coleman flew in to block Steven Fletcher.
After all their dominance though, manager Allardyce could only watch on as an exceptional Kone through-ball put Deulofeu in, and the impish ex-Barcelona man tore towards goal and slipped a cool finish between the legs of Costel Pantilimon.
Everton were forced into a change moments later with the unlucky Bryan Oviedo replaced by Brendan Galloway due to injury but that didn’t stop them grabbing another goal.
The dangerous Kone drifted inside the penalty area and after a swift one-two with Romelu Lukaku he bludgeoned the ball beyond the dismayed Pantilimon to make it 2-0.
Sunderland were next to suffer an injury blow with Lee Cattermole trudging off and ex-Everton star Jack Rodwell taking his place, but they were handed a reprieve deep into added time in the first half.
Defoe latched onto the ball outside the box and after flicking the ball over Ramiro Funes Mori’s sliding challenge and then hammered a deflected effort into the back of the net.
After the break, with their tails up, Fletcher headed home for Sunderland with ease after beating Funes Mori in the air, but their own soft underbelly would be their undoing after 55 minutes.
Moments after having a penalty appeal turned down, Deulofeu saw his dangerous cross diverted home by the unlucky Sebastian Coates, with Lukaku lurking.
The Belgian striker would get his goal five minutes later though as he scampered behind the Sunderland backline, rounded Pantilimon and slotted the ball into the back of the net, after meeting Deulofeu’s fine pass. And just two minutes later it was 5-2 to the Toffees as Kone fired in following another swift counter and a smart assist from James McCarthy.
With a breathless spell over, Martinez’s side slowed the pace of the game but continued their dominance, toying with a Black Cats side who were bereft of belief, although youngster Duncan Watmore will at least have cheered the away fans with his energetic display up top as a substitute.
And, to round off a fine performance, Kone headed home his third of the math when he met a stunning outside of the boot cross from Lukaku, but Sunderland were still forced to play a further 14 minutes before the final whistle put them out of their misery.