Aiden McGeady has became only the second player to retain the top spot in the Roker Report Power Rankings after two more Man of the Match performances during the last week.
Jack Ross’ 4-3-3 system that was unveiled for the first time against Barnsley seemed designed mainly to give McGeady the creative freedom to destroy our promotion rivals - and boy did he deliver, scoring and laying on another goal in our magnificent 4-2 victory.
The 32-year-old backed that up by scoring our opener and claiming a second Man of the Match award in a week against Walsall in the FA Cup on Saturday.
Whilst McGeady was a no-brainer pick at the top, his closest competition came from Adam Matthews. Our outstanding right-back produced arguably the best performance of his Sunderland career against Barnsley, including a phenomenal through ball for Josh Maja’s excellent finish.
Jon McLaughlin completes the top three as he continues to mind the Sunderland goal at a high standard - his distribution across the two matches was once again top drawer.
Two summer signings who’ve endured difficult starts to life on Wearside have vaulted into the top five. Max Power has hopefully put his discipline issues behind him - the all-action midfielder was at the heart of Sunderland’s best play in both fixtures, and climbs up to fourth.
Luke O’Nien joins him, rising to the number five slot. The 24-year-old was crucial in wrestling back control in our thriller against Barnsley. Not only did O’Nien scored the crucial fourth goal that settled the contest, but he pressed and harried the Barnsley defenders who were finding it far to easy to advance the ball at the start of the second half.
Tom Flanagan is this week’s big faller. It’s hard to be too critical of the Lads in a week where they produced arguably their most important victory of the season, but Flanagan struggled against Barnsley, not just against the excellent Kieffer Moore, but also in completing the basics. His nervous clearances were an unfortunate feature of the nervy second-half Sunderland endured against the Tykes.
The ex-Burton man didn’t fare much better against Walsall, where he and Jack Baldwin struggled with Andy Cook’s physical play.
1: Aiden McGeady (1) - Remains the Power Rankings champion for a second week, and given the form McGeady’s in, it could take something special to dethrone the Irish magician.
2: Adam Matthews (5) - Week after week Matthews forces his way up these Power Rankings, and after a quite brilliant all-round display at Barnsley he’s risen to second.
3: Jon McLaughlin (4) - A model of consistency, McLaughlin’s high ranking rarely changes because the man just hasn’t been making mistakes in the Sunderland goal.
4: Max Power (12) - Finally, Power is back in the top five for the first time since August. He was excellent at the base of Sunderland’s midfield in both games, oozing quality whenever he’s in possession.
5: Luke O’Nien (10) - A big breakthrough for our energetic midfielder, his first appearance in the top five. Well-deserved after his goal-scoring heroics against Barnsley and strong showing in the FA Cup.
6: George Honeyman (6) - Our captain looked set for a return to the top three after his excellent showing against the Tykes, but due to missing the FA Cup fixture Honeyman remains at six.
7: Lynden Gooch (2) - Produced a magical strike in our blistering start against Barnsley where we bagged three goals in 35 minutes. The American international struggled in the cup and drops out of the top five as a result.
8: Josh Maja (7) - Drops one place despite scoring a superb goal against our title-rivals - Maja, whilst absurdly talented, remains a player who just can’t maintain his best form from one game to the next.
9: Chris Maguire (3) - Like Honeyman, Maguire would be ranked higher if he had been fit enough to play in the FA Cup. He dovetailed well with McGeady and Maja in our excellent performance against Barnsley.
10: Reece James (9) - Drops just one spot for the second week running. Whilst far from a liability, the left-back hasn’t quite been as secure defensively in recent weeks.
11: Jack Baldwin (14) - Up three places after outplaying Flanagan in a tough open fixture versus Barnsley, but Baldwin remains outside our top ten after a shaky display at the Bescot Stadium.
12: Tom Flanagan (8) - Falls outside the top ten for the first time in ten weeks, Flanagan struggled more than any other Wearsider against Barnsley and fared no better in his tussle with Cook in the FA Cup.
13: Bryan Oviedo (11) - Drops two spots after managing only a late cameo in our League One clash and a quiet display in Walsall.
14: Jerome Sinclair (14) - Stays put after getting limited minutes off the bench in both games this week.
15: Dylan McGeouch (15) - Sunderland conceded two goals from cutbacks this week - would McGeouch’s famed positioning have prevented these chances? Either way, the Scot drops two spots due to inactivity.
16: Lee Cattermole (16) - Still out with a foot injury, it’s unclear whether Sunderland’s former skipper will be fit and firing in time for the trip to Accrington Stanley on Saturday.
17: Bali Mumba (20) - Rises three spots after another eye-catching cameo at Walsall, our teenage midfielder will get his third start of the season in the EFL Trophy match-up with Notts County.
18: Glenn Loovens (17) - A continued absentee from our matchday squads, the veteran defender might plummet down our power rankings if fringe players impress in this week’s cup fixture.
19: Alim Ozturk (18) - Still rooted to the first-team bench, Ross might reward the Turkish defender’s patience with a starting spot against Notts County.
20: Denver Hume (19) - Sadly Hume announced on social media last week that he’s suffered a setback in his attempts to recover from the knee injury he suffered at Coventry City.
21: Robbin Ruiter 22: Benji Kimpioka 23: Charlie Wyke 24: Ethan Robson 25: Donald Love 26: Jack Diamond 27: Jake Hackett 28: Lee Connelly 29: Jack Bainbridge 30: Brandon Taylor 31: Jordan Hunter 32: Daniel Neil 33: Duncan Watmore.