Rowell Report: Time to make Sunderland away days pay

Ex-Sunderland footballer Gary Rowell
Ex-Sunderland footballer Gary Rowell
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WITH three out of three home wins to his name, Gus Poyet has definitely improved our form at the Stadium of Light.

But his attention will now be focused on finding that magic formula for away games.

Our travelling fans have witnessed some depressing performances on the road this season and with two away games coming up, starting with Stoke on Saturday, improvement needs to be made sooner rather than later.

This weekend’s game is huge, not just for us, but for Stoke as well, as only goal difference keeps them out of the bottom three.

The Britannia is recognised as a difficult place to go.

But our recent record there isn’t too bad and after the confidence boost that a win over Manchester City gives, our players should go there fired up and in a positive frame of mind.

Nobody has scored fewer goals at home than Stoke City this season, just three in total and one of those was from their goalkeeper!

And as we’ve only got two away goals, I don’t think anybody will be expecting a goal-fest.

Saturday’s game will be a completely different challenge to the one we faced against Man City, not only in the quality of the opposition but also the tactics they use.

Although I don’t think Stoke are anywhere near as direct a team as they used to be, they still like to play with a big target-man, probably Peter Crouch, so Sunderland’s back-four can expect more of an aerial battle than they had in their last game.

Since the thrashing we received at Swansea, we’ve looked a lot tighter and more organised defensively and also less vulnerable from set-pieces.

This needs to continue as Stoke can punish you from corners and free-kicks if you are under-prepared.

Sunderland’s resistance to Man City the other week was heroic but they also conceded 14 corners in the game and although they defended them well, Poyet won’t want to give so many away in every game.

I was pleased to see Vito Mannone keep a clean sheet on his home Premier League debut.

And as he also kept out Hull when he came on for the injured Keiren Westwood, it means he is yet to concede a goal for us in the Premier League and I’m pretty sure that will be a statistic he’ll be keen to maintain.

After defeats at Swansea and Hull in his first two away games, Gus Poyet will be hoping it is third time lucky when he takes his team to Stoke.

And after picking up just one point away from home all season, it would be great to give our travelling fans something to shout about and celebrate.