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Sunderland v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet League One

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2 Up, 2 Down: What do our panel think were the highs and lows from Saturday’s win over Wigan?

It got the season off to a great start – but what went well, and what didn’t?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Tom Albrighton says..

2 Up

Callum Doyle: F***ing superb, a future England centre back if ever I've seen one. Pocketed £10,000 a week Charlie Wyke for 97 minutes and played some beautiful football to boot. A star in the making

A bouncing Stadium of Light: A true highlight of the day. After so long it was a joy to be back, even if the turnstiles were jam-packed. Sunderland playing some wonderful football got the place bouncing, making it a fitting return for us all

2 Down

League One refs: As consistent as the continual ticking of time itself, League One referees will continually be dreadful. Luckily it didn’t cost us today but some of the decisions were bewildering. Strap in folks, there are 40+ games of this to come

Ermmmm, I haven't got another one. That's nice.

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

Kelvin Beattie says...

2 Up

Ross Stewart: Continues to impress game on game. His movement and sensible pressing were impressive throughout the game. It was pace, skill and timing coming onto a great pass that saw him draw the penalty. He was in the right place to meet a whipped corner from Embleton to score the winning goal and the legend of the Loch Ness Drogba was born.

Lynden Gooch: Gooch’s all-action performance was worthy of MoM. He looked up for it and at it right from the start and could cap his performance with a wonderful team goal early in the 2nd half had his shot not clipped the crossbar. He moved to right back upon Winchester’s departure and worked hard to keep the win secure.

2 Down

Max Power and Charlie Wyke: Power and Wyke’s shenanigans after the Wigan goal in the North stand corner were unnecessary and got what it deserved with our immediate reply to draw level. While in no way justifying fan assaults on players, I do feel that players have a responsibility to behave and not overtly provoke and goad supporters, especially when in such close proximity. Given the number of incidents, this may require a code of conduct/ legislation within the game to keep players within the white lines of the pitch rather than racing toward the opposition fans upon scoring.

Defending the final 10 minutes: I was a little concerned at what appeared to be a conscious decision by LJ to defend the win in the last 10 minutes of the game. Wright’s arrival on to the pitch triggered our virtual withdrawal into our own half setting up arguably an unnecessarily tense final ten minutes. However the win was achieved, and a large vocal crowd got what they hoped for in an opening day victory.

Sunderland v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet League One
Wyke and Power’s reaction to Wigan’s goal was unnecessary and deserved the response it got
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Martin Wanless says...

2 Up

Our midfield: The way our midfield functioned as a unit was superb, and for the first time in a few seasons we saw a midfield structure in which everyone was performing a specific duty. Corry Evans performance at the base was tremendous, and he dictated play superbly. In the closing moments, he was calm personified and led the team very well. Luke O’Nien partnered with him excellently. O’Nien’s energy is going to be critical in this system, and he got up and down well, putting pressure on the opposition and getting the team up the pitch well – and he made a number of crucial tackles and interceptions. In the advanced role, Embleton played really well – he looks like he's grown in stature since his spell at Blackpool, and I’m looking forward to seeing more from him.

A win that’s bigger than 3 points: I said it yesterday in our Talking Points feature, but that win is worth more than the three points at stake. There’s been understandable frustration at our lack of transfers in, but this is a marathon, not a sprint to coin an old phrase. Patience is crucial – whipping up negativity isn’t going to help anyone – so to see the team play well, and get three points on the board, will buy everyone at the club some much needed time.

2 Down

Winchester’s injury: We’re already short at full back, so to see Winchester come off injured on Saturday is a concern. He’s filled in admirably at right back (as Dan Neil did at left back) and any absence will create another headache for Lee Johnson. Incidentally, I hadn’t realised he was originally a right back until he was converted to a centre midfielder by... Lee Johnson, so his selection there isn’t as puzzling as it might otherwise have been.

The Wyke/Power pantomime: As Kelvin mentioned, the lack of respect the two of them showed was poor form and they got their just desserts. Both of them got booked and I actually thought Wyke was lucky to stay on the field – he’d already had what I thought was a certain yellow card overlooked when he cynically took out Doyle in mid-air, while his ‘flailing elbow’ looked a little more deliberate to me. I’m just pleased they were lining up for the opposition rather than us – Wyke turning down our contract offer in favour of joining Wigan could really be Lee Johnson’s ‘Sliding Doors’ moment.

Sunderland v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet League One
Think we’re better with Power lining up for the opposition than for us
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

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