Should Lee Johnson replace Calum McFadzean with Denver Hume against Charlton?
Throughout yesterday’s crunch match with promotion rivals Peterborough, a clear weak spot in Sunderland’s defence was Calum McFadzean.
The ex-Plymouth wing-back has been a highly debated figure within Sunderland’s starting XI, but whilst he has put in some improved performances, they have been overshadowed by error-prone displays such as yesterday.
He was awarded a 5/10 on Martin’s Player Ratings, which I personally thought was generous given the number of mistakes he made which Posh failed to capitalise on.
Throughout the match, the 27-year-old struggled against Posh duo Sammie Szmodics and Joe Ward.
He was caught too high when Smzodics was slipped in behind during the first half, then was beaten far too easily by Ward who put Smzodics in one-vs-one - both chances were luckily wasted.
For Siriki Dembele’s opening goal McFadzean was caught trying to buy a foul, as he finally paid the price for what was a torrid performance.
Every promising chance Peterborough created came down his side and Max Power looked the more comfortable of the full-backs despite having minimal experience in the position.
McFadzean has continuously displayed that he struggles when isolated one-vs-one with wingers and he is far more suited to the position he played at Plymouth as a wing-back, this was the reason we signed him under Parkinson to suit that formation.
He was substituted on 71 minutes for the returning Denver Hume as part of a quadruple change, but many fans were left feeling as though that was too late.
Now that Hume is fit again after missing four months, I believe Lee Johnson must put him back in the starting XI and eliminate a clear weak spot in Sunderland’s team.
The 22-year-old was one of Sunderland’s most improved players under Phil Parkinson and was one of the first names on the teamsheet before he suffered a hamstring injury in Lee Johnson’s first match against Wigan.
He is a step up in quality on McFadzean and if the medical team give him the all-clear to play 90 minutes, I would love to see him start against Charlton on Saturday.
Sunderland came from behind to earn a massively important point - just how crucial was avoiding defeat?
Aiden McGeady’s tremendous free-kick salvaged a point for Sunderland yesterday, a point which could prove massively important for Sunderland at the end of the season.
It meant Sunderland remain two points behind Peterborough with a game in hand, but five points behind Hull who they have two games in hand on.
As a fan you always want your team to win every match, but yesterday was simply about avoiding defeat and you could see both teams were scared to lose.
Peterborough went into the match having won 14 of their 18 League One home matches, with a goal difference of +29 and they had recently hammered Accrington 7-0 at London Road.
With the likes of Jonson Clarke-Harris, Sammie Szmodics, and Siriki Dembele going forward, Posh are a dangerous side and you could see exactly why they are second in League One.
It was a difficult match for Sunderland, but in the end, Lee Johnson’s side finished the match on a positive having come from behind to avoid defeat.
The result meant that Sunderland’s destiny remains in their own hands, if the club win their remaining eight fixtures they would win League One.
Admittedly, winning all eight is unlikely, but it means both Hull and Posh are under pressure of having to out-perform Sunderland.
Sunderland did not bottle the chance to beat a promotion rival, they won a vitally important away point against a team who were the top summer spenders and who have the best home record in the league.
Yesterday’s result was positive, Sunderland remain on their unbeaten run of 12 matches in the league and are in an excellent position to push on to achieve promotion back to the Championship.
Charlie Wyke has not scored in four matches, but there is no need to be overly worried!
Charlie Wyke endured a quiet match for Sunderland yesterday, with Posh captain Mark Beevers frequently getting the better of him.
The ex-Bradford striker was limited to two half-chances from outside the box, as he has now failed to score in his last four matches, his longest league run of minutes this season without a goal.
It would be easy to worry and start to question where Sunderland’s goals will come from if Wyke’s purple patch is over, but I believe he is still capable of scoring more and challenging Clarke-Harris for the golden boot.
Wyke has been excellent throughout this season and has defied expectations, it would be naive to believe he would never have a series of games without scoring.
The 28-year-old has battled hard in the games he has not scored and excellently assisted Max Power to seal the points against Oxford on Friday.
Is it not the case that he has been missing shots, more a case of Sunderland have not been providing Wyke with clear-cut chances to score.
Wyke has proved this season that when he is given quality passes or crosses inside the box that he is a capable poacher, his 22 league goals this season have been integral to Sunderland’s promotion push.
In a season where the likes of Will Grigg and Danny Graham scored zero league goals, plus Aiden O’Brien has only managed six in all competitions, Wyke has been Sunderland’s clear number one striker.
Of course, Charlie Wyke dipping in goal-scoring form at the end of the season would be an enormous negative for Sunderland, but when you have the likes of Aiden McGeady and Jordan Jones firing crosses in, does anyone really believe that will happen?
The only reason this statistic is noticeable is because of the excellent high standards Wyke has shown Sunderland fans he is capable of achieving this season and that is exactly why I am confident he will continue to score.