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Talking Points: A slow burner, but we start November with a bang!

Ah I remember now! THIS is what three-points feels like!

Three points - a huge relief!

A game of two halves

Slow starts set a poor tempo in games, and Sunderland couldn't have been much slower out of the blocks. Was it the weather? Was it the mid-week away trip? Whatever the reason, we got away with it first half. It took 20 minutes for us to even get the ball into the Huddersfield box and in that time the opposition had four good chances. A Norwich or Burnley would have likely been a goal or two up before we got up to speed.

By contrast, after the break we kept the ball a little better and played further up the pitch. Once Pritchard got his revenge on the booing home fans, the result never really felt in doubt. Comfortable (with the exception of a five-minute period on 70-ish minutes) it was a lot more like the Sunderland we have come to expect in the Championship this season.

A surprisingly pleasant B&B

Before the Luton game, if you had told me we were going to go into two games in four days with Bailey and Batth as our two centre-backs in a back four I’d have laughed at you and said absolutely not. Whilst both brilliant in their own right, I was fearing we were putting out a centre back partnership that would lose a relay race to a 90’s Tony Adams and Steve Bould!

What I didn’t count on was that much like that Arsenal back line, their sheer excellence in getting starting positions right and reading of the game meant that not once did Huddersfield get in behind through the middle to cause trouble.

Whilst it's a case of “needs must” at the moment due to a lack of defensive options, it’s been great to see them both make it look effortless.

Danny Batth once again showing why he is arguably Sunderland’s player of the season so far.

Simm-ply the difference

It’s up for debate but in my opinion there was only one reason we won that game - the introduction of Ellis Simms. Even when he isn’t directly involved in play, he keeps defenders occupied by giving them something to think about that they just wouldn’t have been bothered about with Dajaku and Diallo up top together.

The power and strength of our number 9 combined with the skill and pace of Diallo really put the Huddersfield all over the place, and it is no coincidence that nearly all of the good stuff Sunderland achieved in the second half was (at least in some part) down to Simms.

All of a sudden there was an outlet for the times we needed to send it long, and someone with the strength to hold the ball in the final third and give the forward players chance to support in dangerous areas.

The sooner he is fit enough to start games the better, the only downside is that it’ll likely be at the expense of someone who has performed admirably during his two month absence.

The return of Ellis Simms illuminated Sunderland’s performance second half

A puzzle to be solved in the middle of the park

Another game, another shuffle in the centre midfield.

The competition for place in the starting XI is fierce.

Over the last 180 minutes we’ve seen Evans, Ba, Michut, Neil and Embleton play the role, and tonight we also had a very strong 15 minutes from Jay Matete.

Six very talented players to occupy two starting berths in the middle of midfield - all of whom have made a case for inclusion. It will undoubtedly be a “horses-for-courses” approach from Mowbray, who will select a pairing based on the opposition and way he wants to approach a game.

As captain, Evans is likely safe for now, but Ba in particular will have Embleton and a previously untouchable Dan Neil looking over their shoulders.

Blackburn Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - Ewood Park Photo by Isaac Parkin/PA Images via Getty Images

The most important win of the season?

October’s run of games was hellish and with each passing game, each loss and each point dropped, we as fans argued back and forth over whether we were underperforming or sitting exactly where we should be expecting to be.

Whichever side of the argument you sat on, we were unanimous in our opinion that with the results and run of games that preceded last night, a win was an absolute must against Huddersfield.

Whilst a bitter pill to swallow, fans have mostly accepted October’s single win in seven attempts on the strict condition that we see at least six points from the nine available in November. We have achieved what most expected, this result will go some way to getting the train back on the tracks, but it's important now that we put another run together between now and Christmas, where the fixtures (on paper at least) are a little kinder.

Alex Pritchard silenced the home crowd boo’s to give the lads their most important win of the season.


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