David Boyle - Jozy Altidore, You Know He's Going To Score...
I can't help but feel that I have drawn the short straw in this week's Make Your Case feature given my admiration for our Scottish striker, especially with a recent Derby-day goal under his belt to further boost his popularity. However, the importance of the summer recruit, Jozy Altidore, should not be underestimated, particularly given his influence in the fixtures of late in which we have really seen Poyet's bold new game plan reap its rewards.
The fact that the American only has a solitary goal to his name cannot be overlooked, although it would be remiss to allow this to overshadow the hard work that Altidore puts in, often toiling away as a lone forward with his back to goal in the absence of Steven Fletcher.
Indeed it could very well be the return to first team football that could get the very best out of Altidore who seems to prefer playing alongside another forward. Quite whether Poyet has this in mind is another matter of course.
What has particularly impressed is Altidore's ability to hold the ball up and bring others into the game, which is perhaps unsurprising given his impressive physique. In fact Sunderland were able to see out nearly the entire period of added time at the end of the recent victory over Newcastle, negating any usual fear and panic that could easily have set in during such a tense period if it wasn't for a bullish Altidore basically holding the ball in the corner for four minutes or so. Put simply, Altidore was a man-mountain.
There was also his unselfish assist for Sebastian Larsson during the Capital One Cup victory over Southampton; a delightfully weighted ball into the path on the onrushing Swede to effectively kill the game off. It wasn't just the execution of the assist which was pleasing; it was more the unselfish nature of having the vision to lay off a team mate instead of having a pop at goal himself, which as a striker desperate to get himself on the score sheet was extremely commendable and exemplary.
The forward does need to work on some aspects of his game, namely grabbing more goals as has been mentioned, but also avoiding going missing in games at times and refraining from being caught offside a little too often.
Altidore is certainly blossoming into a useful option for Poyet and may well give the fledgling Sunderland boss a few selection headaches such is his ability to bring other players into the game, an aspect which could yet help to kickstart Emaneulle Giaccherini's Sunderland career.
Karl Jones - Steven Fletcher, He Scores When He Wants
Although it feels like we have barely seen Steven Fletcher this season, he has still been able to show just what a dependable finisher he is.
His goals against Crystal Palace and Newcastle United portrayed a predatory instinct that had been lacking despite Jozy Altidore's endeavour. As he has shown throughout his time on Wearside, if you provide Fletcher with opportunity, he will more than likely seize it.
With Gus Poyet implementing a possession-based game at Sunderland, a player with a double-figure goals return in his last four Premier League seasons makes a fine spearhead. In addition to his finishing, Fletcher's touch and awareness further champion his cause in a system that will be required to work both ways. For as much as it helps the forward(s), they too must help it.
At this point in time we must be pragmatic with Fletcher considering his recent injuries, but a return to full fitness has the potential to replicate his form at the start of last season. If you are to choose one man to lead the line - and this feature demands that we do so - then the Scot is that man.