After missing out on promotion from League One earlier this year, Sunderland have managed to make a relatively positive start to the 2021/22 campaign.
Under the guidance of manager Lee Johnson, the Black Cats have accumulated 22 points from their opening 10 league fixtures.
Currently second in the third-tier standings, Sunderland will now be hoping to push on in the coming months as they look to secure a return to the Championship next year.
Whilst some of the club’s players have yet to deliver the goods on a consistent basis this season, there have been several individuals who have taken the third-tier by storm.
Here, we take a look at Sunderland’s best starting eleven based on what we have seen so far this season…
When you consider that Johnson has utilised the 4-2-3-1 formation on numerous occasions this season, we have decided to display Sunderland’s players in this particular set up.
Goalkeeper Thorben Hoffmann has made a positive start to his loan spell with the Black Cats and will be determined to play a key role for the club as they look to emerge as legitimate contenders for a top-two finish.
Bailey Wright and Tom Flanagan have occupied the centre-backs for the majority of the campaign to date whilst Dennis Cirkin and Carl Winchester have both excelled at full-back.
Dan Neil is currently experiencing a breakthrough campaign at the Stadium of Light as he has made 13 appearances for the club in all competitions.
Meanwhile, fellow central-midfielder Luke O’Nien is currently averaging an impressive WhoScored match rating of 7.21 in the third-tier.
Lynden Gooch has featured regularly on the right-hand side of midfield for Sunderland whilst Aiden McGeady has already provided five direct goal contributions in nine League One appearances.
Elliot Embleton has been utilised in a more advanced role by Johnson since returning to the club from Blackpool whilst striker Ross Stewart has managed to fill the void left by Charlie Wyke who opted to move to Wigan Athletic in the summer transfer window.
Stewart has already managed to find the back of the net on seven occasions in the third-tier this season and will be aiming to add to his tally when Sunderland face Gillingham on October 16th.