Yesterday afternoon Sunderland secured a vital 3-1 win at Fulham.
It was a very good result, considering that Fulham have a really solid home record.
The Black Cats were helped by the sending off of Fulham centre-back Brede Hangeland in the 33rd minute.
Martin O’Neill’s side did enjoy their fair share of luck against the Cottagers. However, the Ulsterman would argue that it’s about time they had the rub of the green.
Sunderland may have been playing against ten men, but they still needed to capitalise on the advantage and they did.
The statistic of Sunderland winning one game this season is a rather misleading one. The Black Cats have had to play seven games away from home, compared to just four at the Stadium of Light.
They have also played one game less than everybody except for Reading, because their game against the Royals was called off earlier this season.
Sunderland were just three points clear of the relegation zone at kick-off and were expected to struggle. However, with the help of Hangeland getting sent-off the Black Cats started to play in the second half, after a poor first half performance.
Sunderland do have quality within their ranks. New signings Adam Johnson and Steven Fletcher have made an impact at the Stadium of Light since their arrival. Fletcher has scored six leagues goals this season and at times has looked like the only one capable of finding the net for the Mackems.
Johnson has had a slow start to his Sunderland career, but he is slowly getting back into form. He scored at Everton last weekend and looked lively in the second half against Fulham.
Stephane Sessegnon was one of the stars of Sunderland’s campaign last season. This season the attacking midfielder has flattered to deceive. The mercurial star had a quiet game against the Cottagers, but produced a superb effort to make it 3-1.
Sunderland are not blessed with the best squad of players in the Premier League, but they do have some very good players.
The problem for the Black Cats this season has been scoring goals. Prior to yesterday’s victory the only Sunderland players to have found the target this season were Fletcher and Johnson.
This had started to become a major problem for the North East outfit. In the first half of yesterday’s encounter they looked lacklustre and seemed to lack ideas going forward. However, the second half was a different story.
All of a sudden they looked like a threat going forward. Johnson was one of Sunderland’s better players and if he can keep improving on his performances then the goals will come for the Black Cats.
The likes of Sessegnon and Johnson will need to chip in with goals to assist Fletcher. The Scottish striker will score goals if he is given the chances, but he can’t do it all on his own.
Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill has been under-pressure to get wins in recent weeks and some Sunderland fans have started to question his performance.
O’Neill inspired a revival last season and should be given time to change things around at the Stadium of Light. He has been given money to spend and looks to have spent it wisely on the likes of Fletcher and Johnson.
This win could be the springboard for a rise up the table with home games to come in the next few weeks.
Sunderland needed a result like yesterdays. I never thought that they have looked like a team that would be relegated, but their lack of goals would have been a worry for fans and management alike.
This victory could herald a return to form for the Black Cats and I expect them to be comfortably in midtable by the end of the Premier League season.
Can victory over Fulham kick-start Sunderland’s season?