The battle to claim the power rankings top spot is intensifying every week, with Chris Maguire and Jon McLaughlin improving each time we see them.
Both were in stellar form against Peterborough United and were vital to Saturday’s morale-boasting, crucial victory at Valley Parade.
Maguire ever so narrowly reclaims the top spot in recognition of his virtuoso display against the Posh and outstanding work at Bradford. The former Bury man gave a masterclass in how to harass defenders and relieve pressure when playing up-front for a team with ten men.
McLaughlin was equally inspiring against Peterborough making a series of excellent saves to earn the Black Cats a point, before saving his second penalty of the season against Bradford.
The save and follow-up tackle from Tom Flanagan might end up being the most important 10 seconds of our season. Winning at Bradford ended a run of one win in six in League One action and put Sunderland back within a point of the promotion places in England’s third tier.
It’s the fourth straight week that Maguire and McLaughlin have been in the top three of our charts, a remarkable turnaround after both dropped out the top ten after subpar performances at home against Oxford.
At the other end of the totem pole sit Brian Oviedo and Max Power after their baffling red cards. Oviedo’s bizarre decision to kick Marcus Maddison ruined Sunderland’s chances of holding out for three points against United. Power losing his head just days later was all the more infuriating - he witnessed Oviedo’s brain fart and still couldn’t control his emotions at a time when his teammates desperately needed him. The pair now sit bottom in our list of active Sunderland players.
Jerome Sinclair vaults into the top five after his emergence as a dangerous foil to Josh Maja and Adam Matthews also makes a great leap after returning to form in a more conventional right back role.
1: Chris Maguire (2) - Another great week for our latest cult-hero - his tireless graft against Bradford was every bit as impressive as his stunning assist for Jerome Sinclair against Peterborough.
2: Jon McLaughlin (1) - A penalty save which could be the defining moment of our season. His second-half saves against one of our promotion rivals were just as vital, if lacking the same iconic quality.
3: Josh Maja (6) - Goals number eight and nine for the season move Maja back into the top three - he leads the whole league in goals scored this season.
4: Lee Cattermole (3) - May have been higher if he hadn’t missed our midweek clash through suspension. Cattermole is ideal for tough backs to the wall away performances like Saturday’s, he was continuously in the right place at the right time to help Sunderland close-out a magnificent win.
5: Jerome Sinclair (15) - His best week at the club by a mile, excellent against Peterborough, quieter at Bradford, but Sinclair now looks like an ideal strike partner for Maja.
6: Jack Baldwin (5) - It’s a testament to how good Baldwin was against the Bantams that he remains so high on this list despite making errors for both Peterborough goals.
7: Tom Flanagan (10) - His goal-saving tackle on Jack Payne following McLaughlin’s penalty stop will live long in the memory, though a shaky performance against Peterborough prevents him rising higher.
8: Aiden McGeady (14) - Tormented Peterborough before succumbing to fatigue in the second-half, much quieter and less effective at Valley Parade.
9: Adam Matthews (18) - Finally at the level expected of one of our few decent performers last year, he was brilliant at both ends against Bradford and looks to building on-field chemistry with Maguire.
10: Lynden Gooch (4) - Barely keeps his top ten spot after missing both matches through injury.
11: Denver Hume (8) - Drops out the top ten due to inactivity, he remains sidelined through injury.
12: George Honeyman (9) - Misses the top ten for the first time, he was unavailable for the Peterborough game with a head injury, but only saw 17 minutes of action at Bradford.
13: Reece James (20) - Deserves praise for a solid if unspectacular performance against Bradford, especially given how little he’s played in recent weeks.
14: Dylan McGeouch (12) - Split opinions with his performance against Peterborough, being tidy or ineffective depending on where you stand on his pass selection. Brought on to help protect our one-goal lead late-on at Bradford.
15: Glenn Loovens (11) - Drops four spots are missing both matches through injury.
16: Alim Ozturk (19) - Jack Ross’ third late change at Bradford, the Turkish defender shifts up three spots after his first appearance in over a month.
17: Charlie Wyke (16) - Faces stiff competition to eventually get back into the Sunderland team if Sinclair’s performances this week are anything to go by.
18: Robbin Ruiter (17) - Likely to return to action when we face Carlisle United in the Checkatrade Trophy.
19: Benjamin Kimpioka (24) - Made his first ever appearance in league football against Peterborough, hopefully the first of many.
20: Bali Mumba (21) - An unused substitute in both fixtures, back in the top 20 after Oviedo and Power’s idiotic red cards.
21: Ethan Robson (22) - Another who must be eager to impress in the Checkatrade Trophy after remaining on the bench against Peterborough and Bradford.
22: Luke O’Nien 23: Donald Love 24: Brian Oviedo 25: Max Power 26: Duncan Watmore.