Charlie Methven’s stroke of genius as Sunderland ace proves a point: six things we learned from enthralling Burton draw
Sunderland played out an enthralling 1-1 draw with Burton Albion, and there were plenty of lessons to take from the clash.
Jack Ross will have learnt no shortage of lessons about his promotion chasing side from a clash which saw copious chances at both ends.
And while it ultimately ended in dropped points for the Black Cats, the lessons garnered from the game could prove key in the final weeks of the campaign.
Here's SIX key lessons we took form the clash with the Brewers:
Sunderland are really building on the Wembley buzz
While the result in the capital may not have gone the Black Cats’ way, the club are still ensuring they make the most of the feelgood factor following the final.
And on Tuesday evening, that saw a terrace favourite return to the Stadium of Light.
It’s been well-documented that Charlie Methven has been placed in charge of musical choices this campaign - and he elected to bring back ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ ahead of the visit of Burton following the rousing rendition seen at Wembley.
It spurred the home support into life and they continued to be vocal during the opening exchanges, vociferously backing their side early on.
A stroke of genius by Methven, and hopefully this will continue for the remainder of the campaign.
Grant Leadbitter’s recall was fully justified
Out the side for the last two League One games, a recall for Leadbitter was perhaps no surprise.
Indeed, the all-action midfielder certainly justified his inclusion in the side with yet another classy display.
It was his set piece that allowed the Black Cats back into the game, after they spent a spell pinned back by Burton.
And in the second half, one moment of genius almost won the game for the hosts when, despite being urged to shoot, Leadbitter instead dinked a delightful ball through to Charlie Wyke who crashed an effort off the crossbar.
With Aiden McGeady absent, such inventiveness was required - and the ex-Middlesbrough midfielder delivered plenty.
Charlie Wyke looks like a man transformed - despite the missed chances
Yes, he missed a few chances against the Brewers - but Wyke looks like a different animal in recent weeks.
His desire to get onto the ball and his overall work rate looks much improved, and Sunderland are reaping the rewards.
He was arguably unlucky not to net against Burton, with efforts well-saved and a strike coming back off the crossbar, but Jack Ross can once again be encouraged by the striker’s display.
He’s starting to look like the player the Black Cats thought they had signed in the summer.
Tactical evolution rather than revolution is required
A 4-4-2 has been the order of the day in recent weeks and, while it left Sunderland vulnerable at times against Burton, that shouldn’t be a signal for the system to be ripped up and discarded.
Instead, evolution of the formation is a more sensible option. The system obviously suits Sunderland and plays to their attacking strengths, and reverting to a different outlook may not be wise at this time of the campaign.
So let’s avoid tactical revolution, and instead focus on evolution - fine-tuning those areas that may leave Sunderland vulnerable.
Bryan Oviedo will have a part to play
The left-back has been out of favour since his deadline day move to West Brom fell through, but highlighted how important of a player he could be for the remainder of the season with his display against Burton.
Tough in the tackle and creative going forward, the Costa Rican’s performance gives Ross some welcome headaches ahead of the final weeks of the season - with competition at left-back hotting-up.
More displays like the one against the Brewers, though, and Oviedo may be assured of that starting spot in the short-term at least after he proved his potential impact.
There are still plenty of twists and turns to come
The road to promotion was never going to be an easy one.
Twists and turns are certain and more dropped points are likely during the final few months.
The visit of Burton proved that the Black Cats will need to be wary of opposition threats in their final few outings, and that teams will be capable of taking points from them.
So hold on, this rollercoaster of a season could still take a few more twists and turns just yet.