That one was for you, Marton.
First of all, I’m sure we’d all like to dedicate Saturday’s win to Marton Fulop. Costel Pantilimon’s save in the 32nd minute was an absolutely surreal moment, and Marton must’ve been looking down on us for sure. RIP.
Back to back wins, back to back clean sheets, and Duncan Watmore getting his second Premier League goal. Imagine getting offered that on Friday night?
Saturday’s game was brilliant. Full stop.
I can count on one hand the amount of games that I’ve actually enjoyed watching over the last few seasons, and the weekend win against Stoke was up there with the best of them.
We started the game with a real purpose, and it was again evident that having two strikers on the pitch at the same time is benefiting the side massively.
The link-up/hold-up play was again very impressive, and not only were the strikers getting into more dangerous areas as a result of this success, our midfielders and wingers were also able to support.
Sunderland had some good early chances to take the lead, with the likes of Steven Fletcher, Jermain Defoe and substitute Duncan Watmore all getting into good areas, but failing to make the most of their opportunities. It was a trend that was to continue for a long period of the game.
The turning point in the match came just after the restart, when Ryan Shawcross received a controversial second yellow card for a foul on Watmore outside the box.
From this moment on, a resilient, 10-man Stoke proceeded to sit back and attempt to absorb pressure in the hope of going home with a point at worst.
It took until the 82nd minute for us to break the deadlock.
A well thought out free-kick by Adam Johnson allowed Patrick Van Aanholt to run onto the ball and blast it into the bottom right hand corner – a great finish by Van Aanholt, and it must be said that’s it was well deserved after a fine performance.
Dare we say he’s a transformed man?
Watmore is a name that’s on everybody’s lips at the moment, and for good reason.
His pace, energy, and unpredictability is rubbing off on everyone, including us fans.
One moment, in particular, that comes to mind (apart from the goal), is when he sprinted after a lost cause that was looking to be headed out for a goal kick, only to win a corner.
The crowd reacted like we’d scored a goal.
It’s the simple things.
The feeling around the stadium when he steps on the pitch is enough to make any fan buy a ticket in itself, and on Saturday he yet again showed that he’s ready to make an impact at the highest level.
Fittingly, it was Watmore who scored our second goal on 84 minutes, and it couldn’t have gone to anyone more deserved.
A long throw by Yedlin and a mistake by the Stoke defence allowed him to run through on goal and calmly slot the ball into the corner of the net. His second goal of many we hope!
A superb display by the whole team saw us come out on top. Things are looking slightly brighter on Wearside all of a sudden, and long may it continue.
* The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction. You can stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes