Luke O’Nien is back atop the Roker Report Power Rankings in a week where there was no obvious stand out performer.
Our converted right-back was a clear man of the match in a vital win at home against Walsall and was firmly defended by his manager after mixed reviews of his performance away at Barnsley.
Perennial Power Rankings favourites Aiden McGeady and Jon McLaughlin were also in contention after credible performances - even if neither reached their top level.
Recent returns to form for Max Power who has capitalised on George Honeyman’s suspension, and goal-machine Lee Cattermole also received consideration.
Beyond those five candidates, Will Grigg’s quality winner and Grant Leadbitter’s continued excellence in dead ball situations deserved some love.
In a week where the Black Cats picked up two great results in the League One promotion race any member of the top eight would have made for a worthy champion.
1: Luke O’Nien (4) - His third time on top, O’Nien’s place in the team and best role was once again up for debate, but the ex-Wycombe man reacted perfectly with another man of the match performance on Saturday.
2: Aiden McGeady (3) - Not at his best, but McGeady was still really effective across both games, digging in and producing defensive work he isn’t known for against the Tykes, plus helping to lead the Sunderland fight back at home to Walsall.
3: Max Power (7) - Third is as high as Power has ever reached in these rankings; he linked play well in a tough night at Oakwell and played his part in the crucial fightback against Walsall.
4: Jon McLaughlin (2) - One of those weeks where, thankfully, our keeper had few saves of note to make. He was completely faultless for Walsall’s stunning opener and was a spectator for a lot of the top of the table scrap against Barnsley.
5: Will Grigg (SR) - A lot of Grigg’s flaws or extended spells where you forget he’s on the pitch can be forgiven when he produces quality like his goal on Saturday. He came up with the goods when the whole of Sunderland needed him to deliver.
6: Grant Leadbitter (1) - Unfortunate to drop so far, but too many Mackems really excelled in one of the most important weeks this season. Leadbitter’s fall mainly relates to the Barnsley game, an early yellow card, and extremely windy conditions, explain in part his weakest performance since returning to the club.
7: Lee Cattermole (9) - On the scoresheet again! Cattermole was extremely effective against Barnsley too; his ranking would be higher if not for his difficulties breaking up attacks and subsequent substitution on Saturday.
8: Jack Baldwin (17) - In a different week where less Sunderland players produced such important performances, Baldwin’s heroics at Oakwell would have seen the centre-half vault much higher up our ranks.
9: Lewis Morgan (8) - Dropped for the Barnsley game and inconsistent at times on Saturday. Yet the few moments where Morgan shows his super quick feet and knack for finding space were so good he maintains a top ten spot.
10: Lynden Gooch (SR) - The American put a disastrous display at Barnsley behind him to come off the bench and drive his teammates on to victory against Walsall, earning him a recall to the top ten.
11: Charlie Wyke (18) - By luck or skill Wyke played a huge role with his first touch against Walsall and provided the Saddler’s defenders with a real problem in his brief cameo off the bench, he’s rewarded by sitting just outside our top ten.
12: Tom Flanagan (11) - His early blunder against Walsall made a fixture against relegation candidates much harder than it needed to be - the versatile defender stays outside the top ten as a result.
13: Jimmy Dunne (12) - Another player who received mixed reviews after the Barnsley game. Dunne was dropped in favour of Flanagan afterwards and seems to be dropping out of favour with Jack Ross and his coaching team.
14: Adam Matthews (SR) - Endured a tough week playing out-of-position at left-back, but the Welsh international showed enough of his technical abilities and sharp link-up play to remain in the top 15.
15: Denver Hume (27) - Back in the top 15 after his first appearance since a serious knee injury, Hume has emerged from nowhere as a genuine contender to start at Wembley in the Checkatrade Trophy final.
16: Duncan Watmore (6) - Falls all the way to 16 in the first week since Ross confirmed the forward will miss the rest of the season due to the ankle injury he suffered at Wycombe.
17: George Honeyman (10) - Another big fall, our skipper of course missed both games through suspension after being red-carded at Adams Park.
18: Reece James (15) - A third first-team regular who was unavailable, James is injured and missed the matchday squads for both games.
19: Chris Maguire (16) - Honeyman confirmed rumours that Maguire is back running already from what was initially feared to be a season-ending injury. Could the King be back climbing these rankings sooner than was initially hoped for?
20: Dylan McGeouch (19) - Our fourth-choice central midfielder didn’t feature in either game and must be fearing for his place in the matchday squad for Wembley.
21: Kazaiah Sterling 22: Bryan Oviedo 23: Benji Kimpioka 24: Robbin Ruiter 25: Alim Ozturk 26: Bali Mumba 27: Glenn Loovens 28: Jack Bainbridge 29: Donald Love 30: Jake Hackett 31: Lee Connelly 32: Jack Diamond 33: Brandon Taylor 34: Jordan Hunter 35: Daniel Neil 36: Max Stryjek