Sunderland take on Accrington Stanley tonight and they really need to get on a winning run.
Seeing another draw chalked up against Blackpool earlier this week, it’s time to turn things into wins – starting with tonight.
We caught up with Gary McLaughlin of We Are Wearside, then, to take a look at things…
1. It’s the 1-1 show at Sunderland right now – how do they start getting more wins on the board?
Strangely enough, play more like we did on Tuesday.
The Blackpool draw was completely different to the 1-1 draws we’ve watched all season. We dropped a holding midfielder, played two more advanced (Lynden Gooch and George Honeyman) – and the tactical switch worked. Normally, Sunderland create one chance, score then do nothing else until we concede the equaliser.
Against Blackpool – who are a very decent side – we could’ve scored three or four goals. A minute before we conceded, Will Grigg missed a 1-v-1 and the same player missed an open goal in the second half. If we keep playing like that, automatic promotion may still be on.
2. Sunderland face an Accrington side beginning to fade – are there concerns for games like this, though, given recent results against the likes of Oxford?
It depends how we approach the game and which Sunderland turn up. I expect Jack Ross to set up similarly on Friday, and I think if we keep approaching games in this way we’ll start turning draws into wins. This is one of those games you have to win if you want to be promoted.
3. Grant Leadbitter has had time to play now, what have fans made of his return?
He looks too good for this level. He plays a lot different to how we remember him from his earlier career – where he was a more impactful attacking midfielder. Leadbitter now sits back a lot more and dictates play with his passing range, dominating the midfield and keeping Sunderland in position and high up the pitch. He is very comfortable on the ball and always seems like he has all the time in the world to find a runner. I’m impressed.
4. Is there a suggestion Jack Ross suddenly has too many options? What would you say his best midfield and attack looks like?
I think it’s a strange sentiment, such a thing surely doesn’t exist. Manchester City can play their 2nd side and still win most Premier League games. You just need to find the right balance. Ross clearly has his favourites, and some of them are holding us back. Our best midfield I think is Leadbitter, Luke O’Nien and Honeyman.
Attack is an interesting one, because I think it depends on the opposition as to whether you go for Grigg, Charlie Wyke or both. They looked decent together when Wyke came on in the second half. I’d say our best attack right now is Aiden McGeady, Duncan Watmore and Grigg – though the wingers should change a lot in my opinion because it unsettles defences if they’re not sure what they’re up against.
5. Score prediction
We desperately need to start winning and I think it’ll come good. 3-0 to Sunderland.