This article was originally planned for last week, but glitches in both my health and technically meant that it was lost. However not to disappoint we are here to present our latest Player Of The Month.
The award is of course tabulated from our post-match ratings dished out over the course of a calendar month, and averaged over how many games each player played. It's not foolproof, but it works. Anyway as I said, these are delayed slightly so this 'month' covers all the games from and including Southampton away through to West Ham United at home.
And the winner is for the second time this season, our 'keeper, our Belgian 'keeper, Simon Mignolet.
Barring the Bolton away game it was a pretty decent month for Mignolet. He had superb marks for some top performances against Manchester City and Spurs, while a good mark at Liverpool was also gained as it was he who stopped the scoreline becoming even more embarrassing.
Solid if unspectacular games against Southampton and West Ham United ensured that he came out with top marks, but as you'll see from the table below, it was a close run contest. Several players have stepped up to the mark in recent weeks and might consider themselves unlucky.
Until we get to that point though, let's see what the rest of the Roker Report team have to say about Mignolet's performances this month;
Michael Graham: I am loathe to wax lyrical about Mignolet too much on this occasion because the last time he took the award he promptly proceeded to make a total howler against West Brom. Suffice to say, a second Roker Report PoTM award of the season is testament to both his quality and consistency.
David Boyle: Has there been a more popular keeper in recent times that we have had the privilege of watching patrol the Stadium of Light penalty area? Sure Tommy Sorensen was a bloody good goalkeeper in his own right but I just get the feeling that "The Mig" is on his way to bettering the Dane. He already has the accolade of a penalty save against that lot on his CV just for starters.
It should come as no real surprise to see Mignolet pick up this award, surely more prestigious than his recent North East Football Writers Player of the Year award undoubtedly, as his performances continue to be of the highest order. It still amazes me that not so long ago there was a large proportion of the Sunderland faithful that were still unsure on Simon's abilities and I am absolutely delighted to see him continue to force feed those philistines an ample serving of humble pie week-in-week-out. Long may it continue.
Dan Williams: "He's our keeper, our Belgian keeper" Yes, yes he is.
It comes as no real surprise that Simon Mignolet has picked up our player of the month award, nor is it surprising that it's the second time he's picked up our gong this season. Any doubts that we ever had about the Belgian shot-stopper, and we did in the early days, have been well and truly banished this term.
Mignolet proves time and time again that he's among the very best in this league, and when it comes to one-on-ones, you would have to back the big man everytime. He's incredible in those situations.
The only worry that we have is that everyone is beginning to notice just how good he is, but he seems to enjoy playing under Martin O'Neill, and that can only be good for everyone in the long term. Well done Simon Mignolet, you've been a very deserved player of the month.
Chris Weatherspoon: Pardon my French - rather aptly for the French-speaking keeper from Belgium - but I'm beginning to wonder how many times this season I can habitually respond to a Mignolet save with the phrase "fuck me, how did he do that?!" I've been a fan of The Mig since he signed for us, but he was always a little rough around the edges. This term those edges have been well and truly smoothed, and within their confines stands an outstanding young goalkeeper.
Make no doubt about it, Mignolet has entrenched himself as one of the best keepers in the league. Week in, week out, he pulls off stops that he really has no right to. When John O'Shea plays, the communication between defence and goalkeeper is largely excellent (save the odd blip at Wigan last weekend), and Mignolet's performances have been key in instilling the confidence the whole side has shown over the past month. A gripe remains his poor distributive skills but, perhaps, that could be a good thing for Sunderland. If he improves his kicking, he may not remain on Wearside much longer.
Karl Jones: As Michael has said, this is Simon Mignolet's second award of the season, but his ascendence began some time before that. He is a man accutely aware of how precarious praise for a goalkeeper can be, yet literally put his face in the firing line as we entered 2012 and has not looked back. His consistency levels have improved as he faces a battle for his country's number 1 shirt, but here, it's not even a contest. Mignolet is preserving league points on a seemingly-weekly basis at the moment. I'm not sure you can put a price on that.
22/12/12 To 12/01/13
So as we can see here, it's very positive across the board, with lots of players ratings going dramatically up. David Vaughan might consider himself a little unlucky but shot-lived and ineffectual substitute appearances -- far from his fault -- played a part in his down fall. I'm sure he'll be challenging for the top spot next month.
Hat's off to everyone for the improved performances, but ultimately it's Mignolet who takes the crown, and we salute him.