In what can only be described as a wildly entertaining affair at the Liberty Stadium, Sunderland’s Steven Fletcher starred in his debut for the Mackems while Adam Johnson was no slouch either. Against a Swansea side that had started the season with two convincing victories, the Black Cats needed all they could get from their two new big signings who both seemed to fit in well with Martin O’Neill’s style of play.
O’Neill was not shy with his team selection and started both Johnson and Fletcher in hopes of stopping a dangerous Swansea team. The rewards were immediate as Sunderland did not look out of place against a rising Swans side. Johnson looked comfortable right away and showed why he was so highly regarded at Middlesbrough and Manchester City. His creativity in the midfield and penchant for pushing up into the attack was a welcome attribute to a side sometimes lacking in creativity and offensive punch. Going forward this promises to be an exciting Sunderland side with the likes of Johnson providing lots of flair and creativity for fans to enjoy. So far fans will agree Johnson looks a good buy by the manager.
Fletcher on the other hand was a little more of a surprise name in the starting lineup as there were questions about his fitness heading into the Swansea game. He quickly ended any speculation about his readiness with a fine predatory goal in the 40th minute. In Fletcher Sunderland have found a reliable and consistent striker with a great deal of ability in the air as well as with the ball at his feet. His second goal was of high class as well and showed his ability to read the game and be in the right place at the right time. Two goals in his first game for the Black Cats will certainly endear him to fans who will surely be looking for more from the Scottish striker.
With Carlos Cuellar having settled in well and looking comfortable at the back and Louis Saha providing further options up front, it is safe to say Sunderland’s new recruits have been impactful so far. Cuellar in particular has already cemented his place as one of the starting centre-backs due to his toughness and willingness to sacrifice for the cause
Overall Sunderland’s unbeaten start to the season has to be a good sign for fans. They have looked very lively to start and unlike years gone by, they have not looked short of ideas in the final third of the pitch. After bolstering his squad in the transfer window O’Neill will be hoping his side stays healthy and continues to build on their solid start. With more options all over the pitch he will now have to concentrate on keeping cohesion with all the new faces while maintaining a high level of play.
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