Who Had A Poor Month?
December, in comparison to November when we only played on three occasions, was absolutely jam-packed with games.
In the six fixtures that Sunderland played last month we won two (Leicester and Watford) and lost four (Swansea, Chelsea, Manchester United and Burnley), scoring five goals and conceding twelve.
To say that we are inconsistent would be an understatement.
Jason Denayer had a day to forget down at Swansea, with Gav remarking in his player ratings that it was "his worst game for us. An absolute afternoon to forget." Thankfully, the Belgian international was able to overcome his bad performance with some good ones towards the end of the month against Watford and Manchester United - Denayer is going to be a huge player for Sunderland from now until the end of the season, and the hope is that he can continue to grow in his role as a deep-lying ball winner in front of our back four.
Sunderland were dreadful away at Burnley and Swansea - the performance towards the end of the month at Turf Moor can perhaps be highlighted as Sunderland's worst since the season began. Papy Djilobodji and John O'Shea were all at sea for most of the goals, whilst Sebastian Larsson and Vito Mannone looked devoid of both quality and confidence.
Who Had A Good Month?
It wouldn't be fair to bring up Djilobodji's performance against Burnley without acknowledging his superb showings against Leicester, Chelsea, Watford and Manchester United.
The summer signing from Chelsea may have started badly this season but he's sharply became our most vitally-important defender, and the news that he won't be heading off to Gabon to play in the African Cup of Nations came as a relief to us all.
Similarly, Victor Anichebe was consistently superb and whilst he didn't score in December, he was more than good enough throughout the month and was arguably our man of the match against both Watford and Burnley.
It was business as usual for Anichebe's strike partner, Jermain Defoe, as he ended the month with two goals and an assist - pretty average actually by his standards! Notching in the win against Leicester and then scoring a late consolation down at Burnley, Defoe continues to prove his worth and show his class at this level each and every week and he's a real asset to our side.
And The Winner Is...
As per usual we polled our readers over on Twitter to find out who they felt was Sunderland's best player in the month of December, and despite him keeping just the one clean sheet and conceding eight goals it was Jordan Pickford who took home the award for the final time in 2016.
Pickford is set to miss all of January and February due to an issue with his knee, and Vito Mannone has some massive shoes to step in to in the absence of the England goalkeeper.
The academy graduate has became one of Sunderland's most important players and it is without doubt that our chances of survival this season are far greater with him between the sticks.
Against Leicester City he was a difference-maker, stopping a late shot from Wes Morgan which ultimately handed us the three points. Against Swansea, Gav remarked in his player ratings that Pickford was "the only player to come out of the game with any credit."
When we defeated Watford, Pickford was again the difference between us winning and drawing and he kept a clean sheet too, something which was well deserved having seen him come under a huge amount of pressure in the first half.
Against Manchester United, James gave Jordan his man of the match - and having suffered an injury during that game, his disappearance from the side was soon felt as his deputy, Vito Mannone, blundered through an entire ninety minutes that saw him concede four goals.
Well done Jordan - you've earned it!