Well, well, well. Who could've suspected that? Not, in all honesty, me - I was sat head in hands waiting in dread for the seemingly inevitable Mag winner until Borini's exoset missile hit the back of Tim Krul's net. Jozy Altidore's cleverly teed up ball (if you can't be generous and call that intentional after a derby win, when can you be?) for Borini's aforementioned goal saw the American bag a respectable 5 points. Meanwhile Aaron Ramsey did an Aaron Ramsey and continued his excellent run with an assist for Olivier Giroud's deciding goal against Crystal Palace, earning himself 6 points.
Happily, the Mags failed to pick up much in the way of points, with only Mathieu Debuchy (goal) and Hatem Ben Arfa (fluky assist) actually bringing home any real points. Phil Bardsley, selected yet again to the disappointment of many fans, put in a solid performance at right-back for Sunderland, but received only 2 points due to Debuchy's equaliser scotching any potential clean-sheet bonus. Amusingly, those 2 points bring his total for the season to -1 after his disastrous return to the team against Swansea saw him "awarded" a score of -3. On the subject of minus scores, Steven Taylor's total for the season remains on -4. Which, I think we can all agree, is wildly over-generous.
This week Sunderland face an away trip to Hull, with the possibility of recording back-to-back victories to really give our season a kickstart. Amongst the other games, Arsenal face a tough test in the form of Liverpool, whilst Everton square off against Spurs at Goodison Park.
Sunderland Player To Watch: Steven Fletcher
Gus Poyet's side for the derby had many scratching their heads, but he was ultimately vindicated by their excellent performance. But his inclusion of Jozy Altidore when many had expected him to stick rigidly with a lone striker, and his dropping of Ki and Giaccherini suggest that it could be hard to predict Poyet's team this season. One player, however, who is sure to be a fixture is Steven Fletcher - Scottish Jesus himself. The striker proved his worth in the opening minutes on Sunday, rising above Dummett to head home a crucial early goal, and is always a goal threat whenever he's on the pitch. Hopefully he can settle into a goal-scoring groove similar to the one that marked out his early days at Sunderland last season.
General Player To Watch: Sergio Aguero
As shown by their League Cup demolition at the hands of Manchester United, and their failure (despite Leroy Fer's sneaky effort) to clinch a win against Cardiff at the weekend, Norwich are far from a strong side at the moment. Despite playing horribly inconsistently this season, I'm backing City to ease their way past the Canaries this weekend. They must be hurting after Joe Hart sprinted out and threw away a draw against Chelsea in their last match, and Norwich may well be the saps who feel the sting of their frustration. Whilst their defence has been shoddy at times, their attack is bristling with talent, and none more dangerous than Sergio Aguero. The Argentine looks to have re-captured the form of his debut season, and has to be up there with the best strikers in the world at the moment. Michael Turner, alas, is not up their with the best defenders in the world at the moment.
Sunderland Player To Avoid: Adam Johnson
Johnson's assist for Fletcher's opener was exquisite, however his failure to track Debuchy for the Newcastle equaliser was near unforgivable, and Poyet was unlikely to be impressed by Johnson's surliness when he was subbed off for eventual hero Fabio Borini later in the game. With Borini, fellow Italian Giaccherini and youngster Charis Mavrias all contenders for Johnson's slot in the first team, I wouldn't be surprised if the winger picked up more splinters than points as he sits the bench this week.
General Player To Avoid: Yoann Gouffran
There must be a point to Gouffran, he plays most weekss for Newcastle and whatever else Pardew is, he's no mug...well, ok, he is a mug but still, there's probably some kind of logic in the selection of Gouffran but for the life of me I just can't see it. Coming up against 2009's disgraced Dad of the Year John Terry and co., I can't see much success on the cards for the Frenchman this week either.
The Roker Report League
Brian Murphy remains top of the table, now on an impressive 545 points. A little way behind him, on 538, Ian Jones has sprang from the chasing pack to climb up to second. Behind him come John Downing on 537 and then Gino Bawn on 536. Despite being our leader, Brian lets himself down somewhat with the presence of satirical centre-back Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa on his bench. If you're going to pick a Mag, at least go for a half-decent one! Also notable is the remarkable points haul Luis Suarez brought in for Ian Jones. Already on 17 points for his sensational hat-trick at the weekend he was also Ian's captain, leading to the Uruguayan bagging a phenomenal 34 points!
The mini-league of Roker Report writers has shifted order again this week, as I manage to pull ahead of Luke once more to take 89th place on 477 points. Just three points and ten places behind Craig is in 99th with 474, and Luke just another three points behind him with 471 points in 105th. Dave then sits in 246th with 419 points. Shocking news at the foot of the table as Simon Walsh actually does better than someone to jump a remarkable TWO places and ONE point above Stephen to grasp 298th spot on 391 points, with his disgraced competitor in 300th with 292.