Sunderland missed the chance to move into the automatic promotion places after a 1-1 draw with Charlton Athletic at The Valley.
Here’s what we learned from the draw:
Sunderland need January reinforcements.
Jack Ross spoke in the build-up about the need to add physicality to his Sunderland side and defensive reinforcements are en-route this week.
Sunderland also lack a physical presence in the centre of the park and that is an area Ross may look to strengthen in.
Sunderland lack height and a dominating midfielder in the centre of the pitch.
Black Cats miss chance to leapfrog Luton Town.
With the Hatters involved in FA Cup action, this weekend was the chance for Sunderland to move into the top two.
When Luke O’Nien volleyed them in front after less than two minutes, Sunderland were on course.
But a spirited response from Charlton led to their equaliser and in the end Sunderland would have been happy to leave with a point after a difficult second half.
A mixed afternoon for the Black Cats.
Sunderland made to pay for missed chances.
Sunderland should have been out of sight at half-time.
Lynden Gooch, who has looked tired in recent performances, smashed an effort off the crossbar and Charlie Wyke’s follow-up header went over, though the ball came at him quickly.
Wyke should have done much better with two other chances in front of goal. Finishing looks rusty and needs to improve, especially if Maja were to leave this month.
Josh Maja not distracted by ongoing contract saga
Friday was hardly ideal preparation for Sunderland when it was revealed Maja would not be signing the contract offer on the table.
Post-match Ross was keen to stress that he is under no pressure to sell the striker this month and stressed Maja hadn’t asked to leave the club, just that as things stand he had opted not to sign the contract on offer.
What happens next remains the million dollar question but Maja continues to perform and not let it distract him. Fans gave him a warm reception.
Sunderland full backs provide key attacking threat.
Time after time Reece James found himself in space on the left wing having worked hard to get forward, it paid dividends early on when he crossed for Luke O’Nien to brilliantly volley Sunderland ahead.
The pair provide a big attacking threat down both flanks, while working hard to make sure they do their defensive duties too.
O’Nien faced a lot of pressure second half but coped admirably again. Adam Matthews faces fight to regain place.
Charlton prove how competitive League One is:
Portsmouth and Luton Town were both in FA Cup action with only a handful of League One games played at the weekend.
The fight for promotion is really hotting up and Charlton proved second half they will be a force to be reckoned with in the second half of the season.
Lyle Taylor excellent for the hosts, one of the best players in the third tier, he gave Baldwin and Flanagan a difficult afternoon.
Lee Bowyer is adding to his squad this month, Sunderland need to make sure they do the same to remain competitive heading into an enthralling second half of the season.