SAFC v Wigan

An encouraging start

Andrew Robson rates Sunderland's start to 2012-13.

Sunderland’s status as the only Premier League side yet to go behind this season speaks volumes for the defensive stability Martin O’Neill has instilled at the club in his 10 months in charge. 

And despite impressively being the only club in the Barclays Premier League to be unbeaten in all competitions this season - the side are yet to really get out of second or third gear.

It’s been a stop-start opening to the campaign with Fletcher not signed in time for the first game at the Emirates, Sessegnon lacking any meaningful pre-season and the homecoming of Adam Johnson clouded with a thigh injury restricting him to just a pair of league appearances in the month since joining from the champions.

Consequently, the Black Cats have looked a little rusty & disjointed going forwards and have relied on the refreshing predatory instincts of Fletcher to drive what has been, given the circumstances, a thoroughly respectable opening thus far.

Fletcher has displayed the kind of goal scoring nouse not seen at the SoL since Phillips and Bent with the strength and ability to provide an outlet and weave the play together in the final third. O’Neill has been duly lavish in his praise with widespread acceptance that the summer signing represents real value for money. Keeping the Scot fit is absolutely essential to our fortunes this season.

Had we won the washout fixture against winless Reading, we’d be sitting comfortably in the top half. Added to the promising start in the Capital One Cup, it’s difficult to argue that it’s been anything other than a thoroughly encouraging start.

With a trip to the Etihad on the horizon, I thought I’d get the unbeaten stats out of the way this week before what will be our sternest test year against a side we shone against last season.

Then it’s the derby. We’re due a victory – and if the lads can provide it, it’ll galvanise the encouraging start we’ve made into the kind of season we all hoped for when Ellis met Martin almost a year ago.