Stephen Elliott: Sunderland's attacking players are firing as they look to pile pressure on Portsmouth

How many times have we watched Sunderland in recent years and come away saying ‘I can’t believe we didn’t see the game out?’

Monday, 8th March 2021, 4:30 pm

I can recall quite a few off the top of my head.

At times the team have given up leads which resulted in unnecessary dropped points. The usual chat amongst supporters after games would be “we needed the second goal, didn’t we?

I won’t count my chickens but them chats seem a distant memory at the moment.

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Sunderland beat Rochdale at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

The thing that pleased me most on Saturday was, although it wasn’t an exceptionally eye catching performance, you sensed that Sunderland were always in control of the game and the three points were inevitable.

In fairness to Rochdale, who have an impressive young manager themselves, they tried to play the game the correct way, albeit without any real cutting edge. They certainly didn’t disgrace themselves.

However there is a real confidence in this Sunderland squad and I genuinely believe that whoever Lee Johnson decides to start in games there is a belief that winning each game is achievable.

Charlie Wyke must be licking his lips every week, as not only does he have Aiden McGeady putting them on a sixpence for him but he now has the added quality of Jordan Jones’ end product.

I have to say I thought the delivery for Wyke’s goal on Saturday was simply outstanding by the on-loan Rangers man.

Whether it’s McGeady, Jones, Lynden Gooch or Chris Maguire in support of the big front man you feel that everyone of them at the moment is capable of bringing something to the party.

It’s vital having your attacking players firing and Sunderland at the moment seem to have that in abundance.

The emergence of the Luke O’Nien and Dion Sanderson partnership at the back has softened the blow of missing the first choice pairing of Bailey Wright and Jordan Willis.

O’Nien again showed why he is such a firm favourite with another all action display at the back.

Sanderson is continuing to show a maturity beyond his years and increasing his stock with every passing game. I was delighted for him getting his goal on Saturday and it was really refreshing to see how happy he was after the game talking about it.

Lee Burge has come under scrutiny but in the last few games he has shown he also has improved under Lee Johnson. He has not put a foot wrong in recent weeks and has made some important stops.

It’s Portsmouth on Tuesday, Pompey have struggled for form of late but there is no doubt that they still possess one of the more talented squads in the division. With that in mind Sunderland will have to be at full metal if they want to avenge their early season defeat.

With the form Sunderland are in I suspect the players are confident this can be achieved.

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