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Player Of The Last Ten Years Poll, Round One: Adam Johnson Vs Seb Larsson

Two current Sunderland players and indeed wing players of very different capability go head to head as we rumble on towards the business end of our Greatest Player Of The Last Ten Years Tournament, voted for by you!

Tom Dulat

Adam Johnson

When Adam Johnson signed for Sunderland last summer, his arrival was met with exactly the sort of excitement and fanfare you'd expect when a recently capped England international joins your club. It was also the return of the local lad come good. It seemed like the perfect deal at exactly the right time.

Expectations were high too and it would be safe to say that for many supporters, he has failed to live up to them. That is not necessarily an indictment of Johnson's quality, however. In the previous season, he contributed a decent if unspectacular return of 5 goals as well as 6 assists.

With wingers, numbers only tell half of the story. Johnson is the archetypal wide man in many respects; inconsistent, at times completely missing but at others absolutely brilliant. He was the match winner in the home game against Manchester City, for example, and contributed to that unforgettable 3-0 win at St James' Park with a delicious curling shot as he brought the ball inside from the right wing on his left foot.

Just because he hasn't done this every week in a Sunderland shirt, does not mean he has failed. Far from it. If the early promise he has shown under Di Canio, Johnson is only going to get better and improve on a decent first season in a floundering side. (CC)

Seb Larsson

It was Seb Larsson's last-gasp winner against Blackburn that kick-started the incredibly exciting, if brief, wonder-start made by Martin O'Neill as manager of Sunderland. It was a perfectly executed free-kick and without it, it's hard to imagine the team would follow the victory with a run of 6 wins in 9 games. Okay, so the 'O'Neill Revolution' (I think now's a good time as any to drop the name that we used back then) turned to dust almost as soon as it caught momentum, but that doesn't take away Larsson's contribution to it at the time; it was a wonderful few months to be a Sunderland fan, and his performances throughout that season stood out in particular.

It's fair to say that the Swede is a bastard for wonder-strikes. Before that vital goal in O'Neill's first game he'd already scored a superb volley to claim a point at Anfield, as well as an even better free-kick to the one against Blackburn at Arsenal. Indeed the latter goal was so good, it led Arsene Wenger to label Larsson 'the best in the league as a free-kick taker'. Sunderland had lacked a solid set-piece taker for years, and the Swede's eagle-eyed delivery was exactly what the club needed. Larsson ended the season on 8 goals, including two in a superb performance at the Etihad in the 3-3 draw with eventual champions Manchester City.

Even during an indifferent 2012/13 campaign, he managed to score a stunning goal against West Ham, and produced an excellent display during the crucial 1-0 win at home to Everton. Had Larsson been allowed to continue in his position on the wing, rather than being forced into a central midfield role he was never comfortable with, I firmly believe he would've produced the kind of performances he did in his first successful season.

One final argument. Put Seb Larsson's name into Google Images. Look at any picture. Anyone of the number of images of him that are on there. Got one? Good. Now stare into his eyes and just try and say 'No'. (LB)


Be sure to make your vote count and send one of these two through to the next round. Make your voice heard below, because you only have until 11pm (GMT) tonight to get your vote in...

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