We all remember how salty the official Plymouth Argyle Twitter account got after our victory at Home Park back in November. They posted a screenshot of the match stats, indicating they didn’t deserve a 2-0 defeat and it was, admittedly, quite funny.
To be fair to Argyle, Jon McLaughlin had an excellent game for us that day and we rode our luck to an extent. It may not have just been post match fume that led to that post from @Only1Argyle though, they may well have known that their side was capable of more.
They have certainly shown more recently as well - a lot more in fact. Argyle have put a decent wedge of space between themselves and the relegation zone and while the Play Offs are probably beyond them now, you never know in this division.
To find out if Argyle could make a late top six surge, what has led to their upturn in form and how the opposition will approach this game we spoke to Chris Errington of the Plymouth Herald.
RR: Over the last ten games, Plymouth’s form has been excellent with only one defeat in ten league games. What has Derek Adams done differently to turn this around after such a poor start to the campaign?
CE: Argyle’s good run of results coincided with the recall to the team of Portuguese playmaker Ruben Lameiras and the opportunity for Derek Adams to select a settled back four. Lameiras had been in and out of the side for much of this season until he played - and scored - in the 1-1 draw at Burton Albion on December 29.
That was the first of six goals in four games for Lameiras, which inspired Argyle to go on a winning run.
Defensively, Adams has to chop and change his back four repeatedly for much of the campaign because of injuries, and some dreadful individual mistakes, but the quartet of Ashley Smith-Brown, Ryan Edwards, Niall Canavan and captain Gary Sawyer have formed a solid unit over the past couple of months.
RR: Is there much confidence that you can keep this form up and maybe push for the play offs? Is that even entering the collective thinking or is it all about getting as far away from the relegation zone as possible?
CE: I think a play-off place is probably beyond Argyle but when you consider they were bottom of the table as recently as Boxing Day even discussing the possibility of a top six finish shows how far they have come in a relatively short period of time.
A good strong finish to the season and a top 10 placing would be an excellent achievement in the circumstances.
RR: Does this run of form inspire confidence that next season could involve a promotion push for you then? Do you think Argyle will hold on to key players and make the necessary additions?
CE: Argyle simply do not have the financial spending power of many teams in League One so there is always going to be a possibility of them losing key players at the end of the season.
Last summer it was centre-back Sonny Bradley who went to Luton Town for a better deal. Ruben Lameiras and the equally talented Graham Carey are both out of contract this summer so the Green Army are worried at least one of them, if not both, will move elsewhere.
RR: Freddie Ladapo has been looking particularly impressive recently, is he the main danger man for Sunderland fans to watch out for? Anyone else you would single out?
CE: Freddie Ladapo is an injury doubt for the game because of a thigh problem. He is making the trip to Wearside with the rest of the Argyle squad and a decision on his fitness will be left until as late as possible.
If he does play against Sunderland he should be full of confidence after scoring two of the goals in Argyle’s 5-1 win against Rochdale at Home Park last Saturday. That was the fifth time this season he has netted twice in a match.
Argyle will also rely heavily on Carey and Lameiras for attacking creativity and finishing ability.
RR: When it comes to us, it’s all about Aiden McGeady & Will Grigg at the moment. Are they the two players that spring to mind when it comes to causing Plymouth problems or is there anyone else you’re worried about?
CE: Sunderland have a team of talented players, many of them at a much higher level than League One, so they should certainly be respected by Argyle.
But the Pilgrims have picked up 20 points from their last nine games so I do not think they will be worried by anyone in particular, although they will be well aware that Aiden McGeady is someone they must watch out for.
RR: How do you expect Derek Adams to approach this game and what do you think the starting line up will be?
CE: Argyle will be forced into at least one change from the victory over Rochdale because midfielder Antoni Sarcevic is starting a two-match suspension after being booked 10 times in League One this season. I would expect him to be replaced by Oscar Threlkeld.
If Ladapo is fit, I would not expect any other changes. If Ladapo is out, Ryan Taylor will come in for him.
As for the approach of Derek Adams, he will look for his team to defend with discipline and strength and look for Carey and Lameiras to come up with more of their magic.
RR: And finally, can we have a score prediction please?
CE: Trying to predict scorelines in League One is impossible so I try to avoid it so I do not make a fool out of myself!
The prediction I will make is that the 1,500-strong travelling Green Army will give their team great backing and it should be a good game between two sides wanting to play decent football.