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Two Up, Two Down: Picking out the best and worst bits from Sunderland’s performance v CUFC!

It seems harsh to pick out negatives after winning 5-1, but we can always do better, I suppose... what do you think were the biggest positives and negatives coming out of Sunderland’s win at the weekend?

Martin Swinney/Sunderland AFC

Tom Albrighton says…


It was an absolute delight to witness to Lynden Gooch’s long-awaited return to form.

Driving at his man, varying his play between cutting in or going outside and whipping in some superb balls, Gooch gave Cambridge a headache they probably weren’t expecting.

More of the same, please!

Keeping it on the deck

To quote the legendary Brian Clough, “If God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he’d have put grass up there.”

It’s fair to say that, in recent weeks, Sunderland’s style has often been a bit ‘hoof-ball’. Yesterday, however, saw a return to a more familiar and aesthetically pleasing brand of football that really exposed Cambridge’s weaknesses whilst playing to the strengths of some of our more creative players.

Not only did it look good, it worked perfectly, and also showed what this side really is capable of.

Early exits

If a 5-1 thrashing of Cambridge at a Stadium of Light baked in early spring sunshine can’t convince you to stay until the end, I don’t think much can.

Again, it was a real shame to see fans pouring out of the stadium from eighty minutes onwards, and it would be nice to see a culture shift, whereby we stay to the end of matches, especially given our new-found propensity for scoring late goals.

Being picky

Because we were so good on Saturday, the only other downer I could mention was that the pints in the stadium are still poor. Sort it out, and get the Madri in!

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

Kev Campbell says…

The strike partnership is clicking

Ross Stewart and Nathan Broadhead were superb to watch.

Stewart looked refreshed and confident yesterday, which works in our favour for the run-in, and a fully-fit Broadhead will run any defence ragged. His movement was top drawer and the linkup play between the two frontmen was almost as good as it gets.

Keeping the pressure on

In recent weeks, it’s been said that Sunderland have had to keep the results coming in order to keep pace with the rest of the playoff contenders.

However, I would argue that Sunderland’s current run is what’s keeping the pressure on everyone else.

In the form table, over the last ten games, Sunderland are unbeaten, and sit at the top of the table with 24 points from the possible 30. That’s phenomenal, pace-setting form!


Carl Winchester and Dennis Cirkin were added to the injury list this weekend.

Hopefully their injuries aren’t serious, but it’s not a good sign when every other week, someone is sidelined with a knock.

Physical durability will be key to any chance of success in the playoffs. Our saving grace may be our depth, but we don’t want to rely on that if possible.

My nerves

The final seven days of the league season will be immensely stressful, especially next weekend’s final fixtures.

The good news is that we’ve got something to be nervous about, which is the hope of going up, but the bad news is that I’ll be a nervous wreck by the end of it all.

Sunderland v Fleetwood Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Joseph Tulip says…

Elliot Embleton running the show

Elliot Embleton has been a revelation in recent weeks, with his impact from the bench earning him a welcome return to the starting XI in the last couple of games.

Embo played in a deeper role against Cambridge, presumably as part of a tactical plan in which he delivered several balls over the top for Ross Stewart and Nathan Broadhead to exploit, but there was much more to Embleton’s performance on Saturday.

From his wide range of passing, his first touch and turn, to his vision, shooting and willingness to drive forward with penetrative runs, the academy product ran the midfield and ultimately the game, and his style even reminded me of Steven Gerrard at times.

Embleton simply oozed quality and composure and really looked a class above in this League One fixture.

It’s a squad game

Looking at our bench against Cambridge, and seeing the likes of Callum Doyle, Dan Neil, Alex Pritchard and Jack Clarke, was extremely encouraging,

The sign of any squad’s depth is whether you have more first team players than 1-11 shirts, and we had that on Saturday.

It was a blow to lose Dennis Cirkin before the game, and then Carl Winchester early on, but we have a large, healthy squad which is growing in confidence going into the remaining crucial games.

Finishing school

After the game, Alex Neil claimed that we could have hit double figures, and he was absolutely right.

There’s no real criticism from me here, but if we can keep working on our quality of delivery and finishing in the final third, this could be invaluable.

In the remaining games, we will probably be afforded fewer chances, and will need to make sure we take the opportunities when they come along.

Keeping the door closed at the back

It was disappointing to concede such a soft goal so quickly after going 2-0 ahead.

They say a team is at its most vulnerable immediately after scoring, and that was true on Saturday. We all thought it was game over, even at a relatively early stage against ten men, but a momentary lapse in concentration cost us a clean sheet.

We can’t expect perfection, and our defence deserves a lot of credit for the way we have tightened up during Alex Neil’s tenure so far, but hopefully that little lapse will help to keep us on our toes in the remaining games.

Sunderland v Accrington Stanley - Sky Bet League One Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images


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