Team Selection: Bringing Back Papy Was A Masterstroke!
Me and many other Sunderland fans called for the manager to stick with John O'Shea after his impressive display at Anfield whilst also removing Steven Pienaar from the team, whose performance on Merseyside was, simply put, rather awful.
He did, of course, ignore all of us - and thank God that he did.
Papy Djilobodji become somewhat of a joke figure during the early stages of the season and whilst he overshadowed what was a great performance against Hull by getting himself sent off, he was infinitely more assured and comfortable against Leicester, remarkable when you consider the quality of their forwards and the amount of talent that they have at their disposal. His inclusion over O'Shea, whether you think that is fair or not, was a huge part of why we came away with a win.
Steven Pienaar pleasantly surprised me but having watched just how much time Leicester were prepared to let us have the ball it's rather unsurprising that he looked better than he normally does. He was the best midfielder on the pitch in the first half and it's hard to say just how the game would have went if he hadn't went off for Sebastian Larsson, who played a key part in our first goal in the second period.
Gav's rating: 7/10 - Despite his decent showing, I still wouldn't have started Pienaar.
Tactics: Clear Plan Set Us Up For The Win
Frequent readers of these pages and listeners of our Podcast will be well aware that at the start of the season I was fairly critical of David Moyes' inability to impart a clear and obvious game-plan on his players as we seemed to sway from one defeat to another.
Thankfully, as we make our way into the busy festive period, it would appear that Sunderland - and, in turn, the manager - seem to have an idea of what they are doing and how they want to play. Hooray!
It's an incredibly simple blue-print, yet I struggle to see how most teams will figure out a way to counter against it. Just how do you stop Sunderland from playing through Victor Anichebe? He's untouchable at the moment.
Moyesy may have stumbled across this through the good fortune of a Jack Rodwell injury but it's fairly plain to see that if we are to continue our good form, the manager has to stick with what is achieving us results.
Gav's rating: 9/10 - If we had found a way to keep a clean sheet it might have been 10!
Substitutions: Forced Changes Made The Difference
Despite both Steven Pienaar and Jason Denayer both playing fairly well in the opening forty-five minutes they both were unable to continue beyond the first half, which meant that David Moyes made the easiest substitutions that he has had to make all season.
The introduction of Jan Kirchhoff and Sebastian Larsson was what ultimately, in my opinion, won us the game. With Larsson on the pitch we are genuinely threatening from set-pieces and it was from his corner that the ball met the head of Kirchhoff, which found it's way into the Leicester net via a touch off Robert Huth to give Sunderland the lead. From then on it was just a case of Sunderland's midfield dictating the game and being clever with the ball, and both substitutes did just that to ensure we came away with all three points.
Moyes was forced into bringing off Duncan Watmore late in the game through injury but it was an incredibly bold and brilliant change in my opinion which went some way to nulifying Leicester's most potent threat.
Having scored a goal by finding joy down our right hand side through a Demarai Gray cross, Moyes surprised everyone by not replacing Watmore with one of Wahbi Khazri or Adnan Januzaj, but instead with Javier Manquillo. Manquillo sat in front of Billy Jones in attempt to double up on Leicester's most useful attacker, and it worked. Smart move, Dave.
Gav's rating: 8/10 - If they hadn't have all been forced changes I'd have hailed him a genius!