Saturday’s point against Wolves has set us up for two consecutive games at the Stadium of Light.
Coming away from Molineux with a result has been no mean feat this season, and to do so with a man down for a large period certainly warrants admiration.
The difficulty Sunderland have had this season has being building on any flickers of positivity. This is really a chance to do so. If we can beat both Fulham and Birmingham, seven points from three games sets us up very nicely for the manic festive period, and gets us moving away from the relegation zone.
It’s a big chance to end the home hoodoo, and in Birmingham at least, a chance to drag them further into the relegation mire.
This may sound silly given our current position and predicament, but I am yet to see a good side come and beat us at the Stadium of Light. We have consistently lost and drawn to average and poor teams, and this is what makes the home record even more frustrating.
The gung-ho approach under Simon Grayson probably didn’t help and led to us getting caught on the break, thus changing the entire game. The approach under Chris Coleman has been evidently different; much more emphasis is based on keeping the ball and using it to get forward, rather that using a long ball tactic. Under Coleman we have had two clean sheets having previously failed to keep any and it is obvious to me that the players are much more suited to this style of football.
Whether Coleman keeps with the same formation as against Wolves remains to be seen, although none of the players that came in did themselves any harm at all.
Donald Love coming in from nowhere at right back, had one of his best games for the club and Lynden Gooch was fantastic in midfield, pressing and harrying all game.
Adam Matthews again impressed, this time at left wing back, Marc Wilson looked OK and it is testament to the defensive performance that for all Wolves’ attacking quality, Robbin Ruiter wasn’t particularly overworked in goal.
Things may be a little different on Saturday, as the emphasis will more be on Sunderland to win the game. We won’t see a backs to the wall performance against Fulham, and there will be some changes to personnel and possibly the system.
With Cattermole suspended someone has to come into the midfield. Who comes in then? Joel Asoro was unused last weekend as was Aiden McGeady. Elliot Embleton came on for the last period in midfield so he could be in the thinking.
What is essential is to get more support up with Lewis Grabban, whether that involves playing Vaughan up with him, giving Asoro a go or possibly playing McGeady centrally.
There is of course the chance the system may change completely but I feel Coleman may stick with the wing backs after what was undoubtedly our best defensive performance this season.
A win can get us out of the bottom three on Saturday, so there is even some added motivation. But how many times have we said that before...