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Watford v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - Vicarage Road

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Two Up, Two Down: What positives & negatives can we pluck from Sunderland’s 2-2 draw v Watford?

What were the positives and the negatives from yesterday’s Sunderland performance? Our panel pick some out...

Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images

Rich Speight says…

Two up!

This team is a match for anyone in the division

Who’d have thought it, eh?

Sunderland’s squad, full of youthful, fast, skilful players, complimented with a smattering of experience, is putting the black cat amongst the pigeons.

The fact that Watford - with the millions they’ve spent over the last few years - were hanging on and ultimately glad to take a point is a testament to just how far we’ve come.

Lynden Gooch has finally found his place

Yes, he’s always been versatile, but who would’ve thought a few years back that Lynden Gooch would mould himself into a right-sided defender who can play at either full-back in a four, or as a wing-back in a five.

The lad has worked his arse off for our club. His commitment is true, and he handled a fast winger pretty well by all accounts.

Two down

We can still improve

Is it a negative? I’m not sure.

There’s still loads of room for improvement in our squad, and many quality players across the front and back lines to come back in from injury. These kids will always make mistakes, and we did that on Saturday.

The international break

It’s a double-edged sword.

We want the injured players to come back but the momentum really seems to be with the Lads right now and the pause for the international fixtures threatens to halt that.

Tony Mowbray’s task over the next couple of weeks is to keep that positive mood going and to maintain the form of these lads, particularly Patrick Roberts.

Watford v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - Vicarage Road Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images

Jon Guy says....

Two up!

No sign of heads dropping

The team never looked like letting their heads drop, despite the two Watford goals and Jack Clarke’s disallowed effort.

They stuck to their task, it paid off, and team belief is solid.

The young prospects

Our new signings turned up and did a great job when they came on.

Abdoullah Ba looked lively, Jewison Bennette scored a goal, and it was another decent shift from Aji Alese.

Two down

Room for improvement for Anthony Patterson

He still has a lot to learn and his decision-making was suspect at times.

The coaching staff need to be working with him this week on when and when not to come for crosses.

We looked a little lightweight

Watford outmuscled us too easily at times on Saturday.

We didn’t win our battles in the middle of the park, and hitting long balls from the back to be fought for in the centre circle simply wasn’t the way to go.

Watford v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says...

Two up!

Jewi the beauty!

Having looked decent at Reading, I was over the moon to see Jewison Bennette get his first goal for the Lads.

It was a great finish which will do wonders for the confidence of a young player who looks as good as the hype that surrounded him.

Plenty of grit

We went behind twice to a squad with Premier League experience and came back to grab a point.

Our bench did a great job again, and we could’ve won the match were it not for players wandering offside or not taking good chances, as was the case for Jack Clarke and Leon Dajaku.

This was always going to be a hard game, especially with no outright striker, but to take four points from six on the road, score five goals in the process, and against two teams in the top half? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that at all.

A special mention for Aji Alese, too. A great performance, a great opportunistic goal, and for once, we have competition at left-back/left centre-back.

Two down

An unfortunate own goal

Luke O’Nien had a decent game against a very physical and talented attack, but his own goal made the difference.

I personally think that Anthony Patterson should’ve come to punch the high ball, but you can understand him not wanting to get stranded, too.

Physicality showed

Our lack of bulk almost resulted in us losing the game, with a physical Watford side doing well to knock us off the ball and dominate the aerial battle.

When January arrives, we do need that physical midfield player that many of us called for.

Watford v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Michael Dunne says...

Two up!

Our Costa Rican prince

What a start for Jewison Bennette.

When he came on, he looked sharp, lively and very threatening, and he also took his goal very well.

It was a dream start for the young lad, and given our lack of strikers, hopefully he can keep it up for the next few games.

Aji Alese’s performance

I missed the Reading game, so I was looking forward to seeing how he got on after reading the positive reports.

In the first half, Alese was our best threat going forward, often finding himself in positive positions at the back post. In our box, meanwhile, he won lots of headers.

Some might blame him for the first goal, but overall, his performance was very solid. He looks like a great option for us.

Two down

Sloppy goals conceded

The Watford goals were very sloppy.

We were caught out by one long ball for the first, as the Watford striker was left alone in the box, but the second goal was almost comical.

You have to feel sorry for Luke O’Nien but I still don’t know what he was doing. It was unfortunate that we conceded two goals because I felt we were the better team.

A lack of a focal point upfront

Not so much a criticism, but I felt we lacked a focal point in the first half when we were trying to create chances.

That hindered us, but it got better in the second when Amad Diallo came on, and I think he could be the option going forward if Ellis Simms and Ross Stewart are out.

Watford v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - Vicarage Road Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images

Bomber says...

Two up!

An undefeated away double-header

Looking at fixtures against Reading and Watford, you’d have been forgiven for feeling trepidation.

One team was sitting third in the league with a 100% record at home, and the other was playing Premier League football last season.

To score five goals and take four points without a striker for 150 of the 180 minutes is an outstanding achievement.

BENNEEEETTTTTTEEEE!

It won’t be picking up any ‘goal of the season’ awards but Jewison Bennette will care not one bit - and neither do I.

After showing some nice touches at Reading, we were itching to see more of him.

The context and timing of his goal- ripping his shirt off and running to the fans who were going wild- he gets it already, and I celebrated just as loudly and proudly as I did Jack Clarke’s third goal on Wednesday!

The young players certainly did the business on Saturday.

Two down

No striker invites too much pressure

Needs must, I know, but I said after the Reading game that we shouldn’t get carried away with the ‘striker-less’ approach, as it would be a struggle against Watford…and it was.

For long periods of the game, we had to withstand a lot of pressure, and it seemed impossible to relieve ourselves from it because clearances were coming straight back, as were any forward passes into channels.

Our grit, passion and never-say-die attitude got us through the game, not a ‘false nine’ formation.

Anthony Patterson and crosses

Quite simply, Luke O’Nien wouldn’t have scored the own goal if Patterson had done what he should’ve and taken two steps forward to collect the ball, which was only drifting in the air.

He is a great goalkeeper, but he’s been picked up on this before and it needs addressing.

Watford v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

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