The King just can’t be stopped - two goals in two games means that Chris Maguire returns to the top of our Power Rankings for the third time this season.
The former Aberdeen and Sheffield Wednesday attacker broke the deadlock in our crucial 1-0 victory at Doncaster Rovers before scoring another stunning long-range rocket in our commanding 3-0 win at home to Southend United.
Another former Power Rankings champion, Jon McLaughlin, was Maguire’s greatest threat for the top spot. His two one-on-one saves just before half-time at the Keepmoat Stadium were pivotal in a close game against one of League One’s best teams. Saturday’s clean sheet against Southend also needed earning, and McLaughlin pulled off a string of quality saves to keep the Blues at bay - continuing his sensational form over the past two months.
Sunderland’s first team are really starting to click, and there is little to choose between rankings three to fourteen in a week where Sunderland picked up six points and firmly enhanced their title-winning credentials.
Reece James ultimately falls in a great week for the team. His struggles against Mallik Wilkes were the one black mark in an otherwise superb resilient performance against fellow promotion hopefuls Doncaster - although that is being ultra-picky and, in truth, it was more a case that so many other players had real stand-out weeks.
1: Chris Maguire (8) - The gift that keeps on giving. Not content with being the match-winning hero against Doncaster, the King topped it with a sensational goal on Saturday that will live long in the memory.
2: Jon McLaughlin (5) - Another player who continues to build his reputation as an outstanding footballer at League One level. Brilliant in both matches this week, it took a 30-yard wonder-goal to stop him being our champion.
3: Tom Flanagan (1) - Two really assured, commanding performances from the Northern Ireland international. For all the deserved praise Jack Baldwin received earlier in the season, Flanagan might be our best defender.
4: Lee Cattermole (6) - After walking the proverbial disciplinary tightrope against Doncaster, Cattermole was back to his best against Southend, producing the kind of all-round midfield display that his typified his renaissance under Jack Ross’ guidance.
5: Lynden Gooch (3) - Produced the moment of brilliance to break the deadlock at Doncaster with his excellent direct run and curling effort that ultimately broke down the Rovers’ defence and lead to Maguire’s tap-in. He was even better against Southend, setting up George Honeyman’s opener.
6: Jerome Sinclair (2) - Epitomised Sunderland’s grit and determination at the Keepmoat Stadium with his endless running and masterful leading of the line. Continued to harass opposition defenders against Southend - if only he could add goals to his all-round game.
7: Jack Baldwin (10) - A key performer in helping Sunderland achieve successive clean sheets; his partnership with Flanagan is beginning to blossom.
8: George Honeyman (4) - Unfortunate to drop so far down our charts, but others simply did more across both games. Honeyman was excellent against Southend, but he was also our most anonymous attacker against Doncaster.
9: Aiden McGeady (12) - Even if he is getting on, McGeady is way too good for his current super-sub role. His goal against Southend was a timely reminder of just how dangerous a forward McGeady is at this level.
10: Dylan McGeouch (13) - Another player unlucky not to be ranked higher after arguably his best week at the club. The Scot has improved to such a degree that Max Power is not an automatic pick to partner Lee Cattermole when he returns from suspension.
11: Adam Matthews (11) - Hasn’t done anything wrong to remain outside of the top ten, he just hasn’t quite had the impact of those ahead of him.
12: Josh Maja (9) - His great cameo at Southend would have been rewarded with a higher ranking in a week where there weren’t so many other fantastic performances. It will be fascinating to see whether he starts against Plymouth.
13: Reece James (7) - Rightfully kept his starting left-back spot ahead of Brian Oviedo. James probably doesn’t deserve to drop so far down our chart, but he did get tormented against Doncaster when others were more reliable.
14: Luke O’Nien (14) - Finally seems to have a role in the squad that suits his skill-set. His energy and tenacity helped Sunderland close out two vital victories in our attempts to win promotion.
15: Denver Hume (15) - Still out injured. Is he third choice in his position again?!
16: Glenn Loovens (16) - Is back in training but is unlikely to breakup the Flanagan-Baldwin duopoly when he is fit after a third straight clean sheet.
17: Alim Ozturk (17) - An unused substitute in both matches.
18: Robbin Ruiter (18) - May potentially start a league match for the first time this season if McLaughlin’s called up for international duty in three weeks.
19: Benji Kimpioka (19) - Lost his spot in the first team squad to Maja on Saturday and featured in the Under 23s loss to Southampton Under 23s on Sunday instead.
20: Charlie Wyke (20) - How will Charlie Wyke be used when he’s fit again? Given the success Sunderland have enjoyed playing with a lone striker, and Maja and Sinclair’s recent form, it’s intriguing to wonder how much game time the most expensive signing of the Stewart Donald era will actually get when he’s fit again.
21: Ethan Robson (21) - Still out injured and another player who due to bad luck and timing faces an uncertain future given the number of players fighting for starting positions within our midfield.
22: Bali Mumba 23: Donald Love 24: Jack Diamond 25: Lee Connelly 26: Bryan Oviedo 27: Max Power 28: Duncan Watmore.