Jack Baldwin has claimed top spot in week three of our Roker Report Power Rankings. The 25-year-old was the clear man of the match on Saturday against Oxford United and is rapidly emerging as the true leader of the Stewart Donald and Jack Ross era at Sunderland.
Elsewhere, three staples of the Power Rankings top ten have dropped dramatically due to their roles in our worst performance of the season.
Firstly, Max Power paid the price for his harsh red card - our all-action midfielder was unlucky to see red, but still drops due to the fact his foul left Sunderland playing with ten men for 70 minutes. Barring an unlikely U-turn from the FA, Power will have to wait until week seven to return to the top ten.
Chris Maguire - a peripheral top five talent up until this weekend - also takes a significant fall. The wily forward didn’t play with his usual intelligence and craft against his old team. He was too fired up and never settled - the-29-year-old could easily have seen red himself and drops to 12 in our rankings as a result.
Jon McLaughlin has fallen the furthest out of our first teamers. Worryingly, the ex-Burton Albion stopper has slipped slightly with regards to the quality of his recent displays, including Saturday’s game. He was partially at fault for the U’s goal, giving Ricky Holmes a huge target to aim his free-kick at, and he continues to look susceptible to crosses. Here’s hoping he can get over this small blip with a couple of good performances in the coming days.
In more positive news, our marquee summer signing Charlie Wyke propelled himself into our top ten after his game-changing cameo. The burly target man not only scored on his debut, but became a real focal point for the lads as they battled for a valuable point with ten men.
Dylan McGeouch and Alim Ozturk make the top ten for the first time as their stature continues to grow within the squad, whilst Donald Love remains bottom out of appearance makers this season.
Elliot Embleton temporarily exits our Power Rankings chart after completing a loan move to Grimsby Town - he’ll back when he returns from Blundell Park on January 6.
1: Jack Baldwin (5) - It was an easy call to make this man the leader of our power rankings after week three. He was Sunderland’s best player by a distance on Saturday and has made an excellent start to his career on Wearside.
2: Lynden Gooch (1) - Loses the top spot after a second consecutive quiet performance. Even on an off-day, the American international was instrumental in Sunderland’s equaliser.
3: Lee Cattermole (3) - Lee Barry Cattermole keeps his spot in the top three after playing a crucial role in Sunderland’s second-half fight back against Oxford United.
4: Josh Maja (2) - Drops out of the top three for the first time. The Oxford match was the second straight game where our budding teenage superstar struggled to impose himself. With Charlie Wyke fit and firing, Maja faces a real struggle to remain in the top five.
5: George Honeyman (7) - Mr consistency takes a spot in the top five for the first time this season. He kept his head when other more senior players didn’t on Saturday.
6: Bryan Oviedo (11) - The Costa Rica international reclaims a place in the top ten after injuries restricted his game time in week two. We saw the good and the bad of the former-Everton man on Saturday - he led the counter attacks in the second-half after continuously tackling thin air in the first!
7: Charlie Wyke (22) - Our star striker had a near perfect debut - not just scoring, but acting as the talisman that helped drag Sunderland back into the game.
8: Dylan McGeouch (13) - Breaks the top ten for the first time - the Scottish midfielder may be a permanent fixture in the top ten or even top five if he’s able to become a consistent fixture in Jack Ross’ starting eleven. Max Power’s suspension gives him a great opportunity to nail down a permanent starting spot in our midfield.
9: Alim Ozturk (15) - His performance on Saturday split opinion, but the Turkish defender is undoubtedly improving - fair play to him. Glenn Loovens now faces a battle for his spot in the side.
10: Reece James (10) - The full-back remains on the periphery of the first team and his RR ranking reflects this as he stays in the tenth spot for a second straight week.
11: Max Power (4) - How the mighty have fallen - one challenge and one questionable refereeing decision has seen the former Wigan midfielder drop seven places.
12: Chris Maguire (6) - Another who comes out of our top ten after performing terribly against Oxford. Hopefully he’ll back to his best against Fleetwood Town.
13: Glenn Loovens (9) - Missed Saturday’s match through injury.
14: Adam Matthews (12) - Plummets further down the rankings after missing his third straight fixture - it’s concerning that he’s so susceptible to injuries.
15: Jon McLaughlin (8) - Our first-choice stopper is trending in the wrong direction. Crosses continue to trouble him and his positioning was poor for Oxford’s goal - he must improve to avoid joining Donald Love at the bottom of our rankings.
16: Bali Mumba (14) - The 16-year-old prospect wasn’t available for selection on Saturday as he headed off to join up with the England U18s squad, and will miss the next two games too.
17: Luke O’Nien (16) - Our clash with Stoke Under 21s in the Checkatrade Trophy could be the perfect opportunity for the energetic midfielder to impress Jack Ross and vault up our power rankings.
18: Denver Hume (17) - Didn’t make the 18 against Oxford - another who could benefit with game time in the Checkatrade Trophy.
19: Jerome Sinclair (18) - Still sidelined through injury but is expected back very soon.
20: Luke Molyneux (19) - Jack Ross simply doesn’t seem to consider the talented forward a first-team player. Featured - and scored - last night for the U23s against West Brom.
21: Donald Love (21) - Another unconvincing performance keeps the former Manchester United defender at bottom of the pack among active Sunderland players.
22: Tom Flanagan, 23: Aiden McGeady, 24: Ethan Robson, 25: Duncan Watmore, 26: Robbin Ruiter, 27: Max Stryjek, 28: Didier Ndong, 29: Papy Djilododji.