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Sunderland v Oxford - Sky Bet League One

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Talking Points: How important is Jordan Jones to Sunderland’s chances of winning League One?

Sunderland came from behind to beat Oxford 3-1 yesterday. How crucial is Jordan Jones to Sunderland’s promotion chances? Should Lee Johnson make any changes for the Peterborough match? Sunderland continue to break bad runs, are we now seeing the formation of a winning mentality? Let us know YOUR thoughts!

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Jordan Jones was absolutely fantastic! Sunderland MUST keep him fit if we are to challenge to win League One

When Sunderland announced their team at 2pm yesterday, the major boost for Lee Johnson’s side was the return of Jordan Jones.

The on-loan Rangers winger had been missing since his wonderful display against Portsmouth, where he scored the winning goal with an excellent chip.

Jones has been a big miss for Sunderland, as no one else in the squad possesses the pace he has to drive past defenders and make things happen.

He returned yesterday with an outstanding performance, from the start until he was substituted he was involved in everything Sunderland produced going forward.

The 26-year-old whipped in some excellent crosses, but his best moment was when he beat two Oxford players before putting the ball on a plate for Lynden Gooch to tap home from close range. In the second half, Jones was massively unlucky not to score when he rifled a shot from outside of the box off the top of the crossbar.

Portsmouth v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

I awarded Jones an 8/10 of Roker Report’s Player Ratings and felt he was the clear man of the match.

Similarly to Dion Sanderson’s situation, Sunderland fans are crying out for Jones to be signed on a permanent basis at the end of the season. It is unlikely that he will play regular football at Rangers, so if Sunderland can achieve promotion, Jones is exactly the type of player we should be looking at.

With nine matches to go, it is imperative that Jones stays fit to help Sunderland push on to win the League One title. He has proved that he deserves a regular starting place and with him and Aiden McGeady on either flank, Sunderland posses two quality wingers who can both score and create goals.

He is a class above League One level and is an absolute joy to watch.

Sunderland face promotion rivals Peterborough in just two days - should Lee Johnson make any changes?

Sunderland won the first of two massively influential games this Easter, but with the Peterborough match just two days away, should Lee Johnson make any changes?

The Black Cats had no defenders on the bench against Oxford, but Bailey Wright and Denver Hume are both close to returning and could make the matchday squad against Posh. It would be an incredibly brave call to start either, given their lack of sharpness, but Peterborough possess the best attackers in League One with Jonson Clarke-Harris, Sammie Szmodics, and Siriki Dembele.

Luke O’Nien has formed an excellent partnership with Dion Sanderson, so you could argue it would be harsh to break the duo apart.

Sunderland v Oxford United - Sky Bet League One
Matt Taylor is challenged by Dion Sanderson
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

A surprise selection choice against Oxford was the dropping of Carl Winchester, who did not even feature despite the Northern Irishman putting together his best run of form since joining the club in January.

If Winchester was to return, it would likely be for Josh Scowen or Max Power in central midfield, with Johnson also having the option to drop Conor McLaughlin and push Power back to right-back.

Alternatively, if Johnson seeks to sure up the midfield for such a crucial away match, he could opt to drop Lynden Gooch and play a three-man midfield. This would provide Sunderland’s defence with added protection, which could be crucial given Posh’s pace going forward.

Going forward, if fit Aiden O’Brien could be in line for a starting return if Johnson keeps two up front, but some would argue that would be harsh on Lynden Gooch given he scored and assisted, whereas others may argue O’Brien brings the best out of Charlie Wyke.

It would not be hugely surprising if Johnson named an unchanged team, but my gut instinct would be that he picks a more safe team ahead of a crucial away match against a promotion rival, one which Sunderland simply cannot lose.

Lee Johnson continues to end bad records as Sunderland beat Oxford at the Stadium of Light for the first time since our relegation to League One!

Since Sunderland were relegated to League One in 2018, the club has developed some embarrassing records against sides they never thought they would struggle against.

For the past two seasons, those hoodoos have played a key part in preventing Sunderland from achieving promotion, but since his appointment in December, Lee Johnson has already ended some awful records and statistics at Sunderland.

For example,

  • Winning at Wembley for the first time in 48 years
  • Beating Portsmouth at Fratton Park for the first time in the 21st century
  • Defeating Fleetwood Town for the first time in a competitive match
  • Winning against our bogey team Burton Albion for the first time at League One level
  • Ending Joey Barton’s unbeaten managerial record against Sunderland
  • Beating Oxford at the Stadium of Light for the first time since our relegation to League One

All six of the above-mentioned statistics have played a part in Sunderland’s failure to achieve promotion back to the Championship, yet already Lee Johnson is demolishing a number of bad records.

Sunderland v Oxford - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

It shows a shift in mentality at the club and hopefully the start of the winning culture that Kyril Louis-Dreyfus and Kristjaan Speakman are trying to implement at the club.

For too long Sunderland have fallen short at this level, but Johnson appears to have the team on the right track and beating Oxford yesterday was a crucial victory. They have drifted away from being draw specialists and have started to grind out victories even when they are not playing their best football.

Sunderland face their biggest test of the season on Monday live on Sky against Peterborough, but considering all of the records the team has broken recently and the unbeaten run they are on, why should they fear anyone?


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