One Defeat In Six At Home
Yes, as hard as that might be to believe - Sunderland have lost just once at home in their last six games, and that was against Chelsea. You might remember that a wonder save right near the end of the match from the league leader's stopper, Thibaut Courtois, kept them in that game.
It hasn't been all that bad!
The importance of being a side that are hard to beat on home soil cannot be stressed enough if we are to stay up again this season, and another clean sheet at the Stadium of Light should give us hope ahead of the Stoke City game next weekend. It's one that we simply must win in order to gain ground on those above us in the table.
Jason Denayer - Our Cup Of Nations Solution?
Jason Denayer arguabaly put in the best Sunderland central defence showing of the season yesterday - easing the pain of losing Lamine Kone for what could be another five games until the end of the African Cup of Nations.
Whilst he's probably also our best central midfielder too, he was brilliant in the heart of our back line and the question now is whether or not we play him there against Stoke City next weekend, or we bring John O'Shea back in to the fold with Denayer moving back in to our wafer-thin middle-pack.
One thing is for sure - we can ill afford another Denayer injury in January. He's became one of our most important players in such a short space of time and his fitness could be the difference between us conceding for fun and keeping a clean sheet when the Potters roll in to town on Saturday - it's safe to say that we missed him in the two league games before this cup tie.
Late Formation Change Testing The Waters?
When John O'Shea was introduced late in to the game from the bench, Sunderland elected to switch to a three-man back line. Was it a sign of things to come?
David Moyes must surely be looking to explore all of the different ways that he can get his shallow pool of players performing whilst we battle against absence and injuries throughout the rest of January.
The issue remains, though, that our midfield options just aren't good enough. Jack Rodwell's decent spell of form since his return from injury should give us some relief at least, but you never know whether you can rely upon Jack to stay fit and stay in form.
Borini's Showing Was A Write-Off!
Nothing seemed to go right for poor Fabio Borini. Every touch, every tackle, every potential free-kick winning foul - not one thing appeared to go in his favour. It was truly an afternoon to forget.
The key for Fabio now that he's back from injury and is back at full fitness is to regain some of the good form that he showed in the latter stages of last season in our battle for survival.
I'm not convinced that he's most comfortable on the right hand side of the pitch, and perhaps that is something for the manager to think about.
His best spell as a Sunderland player came when he operated as an inside forward playing off the left, and whilst we are without Victor Anichebe through injury we should maybe think about giving him a run of games down that side of the pitch.