Sunderland were back to their best yesterday by defeating in-form Doncaster Rovers 4-1 at the Stadium of Light.
Darren Moore’s outfit had won nine out of their last 10 League One games before defeat in midweek away at Fleetwood Town, and they suffered yet another rare loss on their travels thanks to two in-form men in particular.
Charlie Wyke continued his hot streak with a four-goal haul – and they were all assisted by Aiden McGeady out on the left flank.
It took Wyke’s scoring record to 10 goals in his last eight League One outings and his contributions alone could see Sunderland sky-rocket up the table.
Let’s see what we learned following their demolition job of Doncaster on Wearside.
4-3-3 is the way to go
Since Johnson arrived on Wearside, he’s alternated between a 4-4-3 formation and a 4-4-2, seemingly favouring the latter in recent weeks.
That system paired Wyke up-front with Aiden O’Brien, and they’ve only lost once whilst going with two up-front (that being the recent midweek defeat to Shrewsbury), but the Doncaster thumping proved that Johnson must stick with Wyke as the lone striker.
Doncaster just couldn’t cope with the same thing every time – McGeady to Wyke. It didn’t matter if the Irishman cut inside or went down the line with his ‘weaker’ left foot, the same result happened every time, and that must have something to do with the system implemented.
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Phil Parkinson got Aiden McGeady all wrong
We may never get the full story on what happened between Parkinson and McGeady, but yesterday proved that it was pretty silly of the former manager to banish the Ireland international from the first team.
Simply put – McGeady is probably the best winger in the league when he’s putting in all his effort. Ironically he makes it look effortless when he plays like he did against Doncaster, and it’s clear to see that Johnson is beginning to get the best out of him.
At the age of 34, he doesn’t exactly have the pace he once had but McGeady still has a little bit left in the legs and he’s making Parkinson look very silly in the process.
Sunderland will be fine at the back without Jordan Willis
The Black Cats were delivered a hammer blow this week when it was revealed that Jordan Willis has injured his knee once again.
The 26-year-old will face at least six months on the sidelines and as a top third tier defender he will be a big miss, but Johnson’s new centre-back pairing of Dion Sanderson and Bailey Wright look to be more-than-capable of playing with each other.
Wright has experience at international level and in the Championship whilst Wolves loanee Sanderson is talented – but the lack of depth is worrying with players like Tom Flanagan and Arbenit Xhemajli also on the sidelines, so care will need to be taken between now and the end of the season.