Andrew Smithson says...
Well drilled. It was the simple things that pleased me most, the players looked to have been given clear instructions and they stuck to them throughout. Take Gooch for example; he constantly showed McClean inside - I don't think he got to the byline once and that made a huge difference. Matete is another one that seemed to understand his role and carried it out to the letter, he was always in the right place at the right time to either win the ball back or keep it moving. It might not seem fancy, but it doesn’t have to be.
1-11. Patterson handled well and made a save at a vital stage in the game, Xhemajli looked strong on his first league start, Cirkin and Evans both returned to form, I could go on and on...you could pick out just about any Sunderland player from that performance and say that they contributed in some way. This was a real team effort where everybody got stuck in and everybody stuck up for their teammates. We were a unit, and it needs to stay that way in the weeks to come.
On our day. You can always expect the unexpected with Sunderland; we’ve lost games recently that we should be winning and now we’ve won a match where most people had us down for a beating. Most of the time we’ve been our own worst enemies and when we do lose it is invariably because we’ve shot ourselves in the foot, but on the other hand when the good version of SAFC turns up we’re easily one of the best in the division still and we’ve shown that against one of the front runners. Alex Neil already has us going direct a bit more often, but our attackers clicked still and we suddenly looked a much different proposition.
League One’d them. Max Power did his best to referee the game himself, but towards the end, Wigan knew they’d been out-thought and it showed because they were the ones losing their discipline. There were a few shaky moments after Wright’s brilliant opener I know, but we took the sting out of things and when it called for it, used the dark arts to do so. We’ve seen all the horrible stuff before in this league, players staying down, players winding the opposition up, but if you can’t beat them you should join them. Even when Power and co were messing about and trying to get in Stewart’s head before the first penalty he did superbly to block it all out and stay focused - it showed nous, and it was something the whole team used.
Phil West says...
Arby’s Performance! This was a big day for Xhemajli. After so many injuries and frustrations since he arrived at the SOL, his performance was something to lift the spirits. After so much talk about when he would finally get a chance, Saturday was that day, and he delivered. He was composed, measured and extremely comfortable, and hopefully he can breathe new life into the defence for the remaining games of the season.
Patterson the Great Wall of Wearside. I was absolutely puzzled when Patto got the start over Hoffmann, but in fairness, he justified his selection superbly. He mopped up everything within range and helped to keep his defenders calm and panic-free. I still believe that Hoffmann should be our #1, but this was a superb display from Patterson.
Matete Shines Again. This lad looks to be an absolutely superb addition to our midfield. He has relentless energy & enthusiasm and has given us some bite & ball-winning ability in the middle of the park. I also love his positive approach, and his willingness to drive forward with the ball at his feet. The data-driven approach has definitely paid dividends with the signing of Matete, without a doubt.
Warra Fucking Win! Did anyone see this coming? 3-0 to us in the backyard of one of the best teams in the league? We showed no fear and acquitted ourselves superbly all game, and pride has been restored after some dismal performances recently. This needs to be a building block as we look forward to the tricky games to come. We can’t allow it to be a one-off: this has to be the standard moving forward, and the dressing room will be a much happier place after we finally got the winning feeling back.
Michael Dunne says...
Lynden Gooch deserves a lot of credit. The winger is constantly scapegoated - rightly or wrongly - for poor performances but, he cannot be faulted for how he played on Saturday. Gooch put in a massive shift defensively and offensively - he constantly threatened and was a thorn in James McClean’s side. The hope is he can sustain this until the end of the season - that remains to be seen.
Alex Pritchard is the best footballer in this league. I have watched almost every Sunderland game this season and I have yet to see a footballer who is as involved in every positive thing a team does like Pritchard. His passing is exquisite, his set-pieces constantly threaten and his work rate is top-notch. Not only are we seeing the best of Pritchard, but we are also seeing a leader grow. Signing him was a great piece of business.
A solid day out at the back. Arby came in for his first start and didn’t play half bad. To me, I thought he lacked a little bit of physicality at times, especially when the ball was played long. That being said, Arby’s passing and distribution was quite decent while he had no issue going in for a challenge. It would be great to see him more involved as the season goes on. Furthermore, Bailey Wright is still offering that solidity we know he has. He was the ideal partner for Arby and doubt he helped him out throughout the game. Carl Winchester also had a massive game and is certainly showing himself not be out of place at the back. Denis Cirkin was a lot more solid but clearly still has a lot to do.
Winning in style! Not only did we win, but we showed some style for once, which is pleasing. One would hope this will grow over the next few weeks. It can only get better.