GARY ROWELL: Sunderland win against Burnley so vital

Gary Rowell
Gary Rowell
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GUS Poyet changed his tactics and team formation against Burnley and was rewarded with a rare, but precious home win.

Out went the three centre-halves in favour of a more conventional back four, and with both the strikers on the scoresheet, Sunderland looked more organised with a system that suited them better.

It was far from the best Premier League game I’ve ever seen, but better than recent ones, and anyway, if we keep on winning, I can live with that.

Sunderland also passed the mental test, as this was as close to a must-win game as you can have in January, with huge pressure on the players to deliver the victory which they did.

Everybody was happy to see Jermain Defoe get off the mark for Sunderland, but I was just as pleased for Connor Wickham to score. Their partnership looked promising and with more games, can develop further.

A clean sheet at the other end won’t do the defenders and goalkeeper any harm either, with the bonus that both full-backs claimed assists for the two goals.

The team seemed to go into their shell in the second half, as the game just drifted, but it was always a match where points were more important than performance and with everybody else at the bottom losing, it was a good weekend for Sunderland.

SUNDERLAND clamied back-to-back wins for the first time this term when they beat Fulham to secure a place in the fifth round of the FA cup.

They went into the game knowing a win would mean only a team two divisions lower than themselves would stand in the way of a place in the quarter-final. You can’t get much more of an incentive than that.

Going a goal down wouldn’t have been in Gus Poyet’s script - or the incredible 4,000 travelling fans - but the turning point was Sunderland’s equaliser, handed on a plate to them by the Fulham keeper’s blunder.

Sunderland took full advantage, but were always the better team, and there was only one winner after that, with goals from the impressive Ricky Alvarez and Jordi Gomez sealing a trip to Bradford and their notorious Valley Parade pitch.