Sunderland 3-0 Everton: The talking points from the win that secured Premier League safety

The Black Cats booked their place in the 2016/17 Premier League season last night with a 3-0 win over the Toffees, and in the process sent bitter rivals Newcastle United down to the Championship.

Sunderland 3-0 Everton: The talking points from the win that secured Premier League safety
Lamine Kone netted a brace as he helped fire his side to safety. (Photo: Sunderland AFC)

Sunderland made sure of their Premier League status for another season last night, as they thrashed an unconvincing Everton side in what turned out to be Roberto Martinez's last game as manager of the Toffees.

Goals from Patrick van Aanholt and Lamine Kone sealed the three points comfortably, in a win made sweeter by the fact it sent fierce rivals Newcastle United down to the Championship despite the late appointment of Rafa Benitez.

Here are the main talking points from the game and what the summer could hold for the Black Cats:

Sunderland finally have a solid partnership in central defence

Something that Sunderland lacked in the first half of the season was a solid partnership at the heart of defence, with Younes Kaboul lacking match fitness, John O'Shea producing sub-par performances and Sebastian Coates failing to replicate his form seen at the end of the 2014/15 season.

In January, Sam Allardyce recruited a dominating presence at centre-back in the Ivorian Kone, who signed from French side Lorient at the second attempt after the deal seemingly collapsed at a late stage the first time around. 

Sunderland fans will be glad Allardyce kept at it, with Kone proving to be a shrewd piece of business as the Wearsiders have become a much harder side to beat in the second part of the campaign, with their only loss in the club's last 10 games coming at the hands of Leicester City, with four clean sheets kept in that time.

Against Everton the two towering central defenders put in outstanding displays, with Kaboul marking Romelu Lukaku out of the game and nearly finding the net with a mazy run in the first half, while Kone scored his first two goals in a red and white shirt to put the Black Cats out of sight.

Allardyce must get summer recruitment right to avoid this scenario repeating itself

Last night was of course not the first time Sunderland had found themselves in a precarious position with a game to go, but once again they prevailed and avoided the drop with a game to spare.

Paolo Di Canio, Gus Poyet and Dick Advocaat failed to steady the ship in their respective campaigns after avoiding the drop, with summer recruitment proving to be a big issue for the three as big money was spent on players such as Jozy Altidore and Jack Rodwell, who simply did not produce what was expected of them.

Allardyce has shown what he can do with a largely successful January transfer window, and now he must turn his attention to the summer window, where he will look to secure the players that will push Sunderland on from being pigeon-holed as perennial relegation battlers.

Swapping Jozy Altidore for Jermain Defoe was an incredible piece of business

For all of the mistakes that Poyet and Lee Congerton may have made during their time at the club, the decision to swap a misfiring Altidore for a Premier League proven striker in Defoe was an outstanding piece of business.

What exactly appealed to Toronto FC about the deal is a mystery, but there is no doubting that Sunderland are the happier of the two parties, with Defoe netting 18 goals in all competitions this season with a game still to be played on Sunday.

Advocaat thought he wasn't able to play as a lone striker and so forced him into an uncomfortable winger turned left back role at the end of last season, and even Allardyce had his doubts, but Defoe has proved that he is one of his side's most prized assets whether he plays alone or with a partner.

Defoe is just one goal away from becoming the joint 10th top scorer in Premier League history. (Photo: Sunderland AFC)
Defoe is just one goal away from becoming the joint 10th top scorer in Premier League history. (Photo: Sunderland AFC)

Allardyce showed how the January window can transform a team

With Sunderland sitting in 19th place and on just 12 points at the beginning of the year, Allardyce knew that he needed to recruit quality if he were to have any chance of closing the seven point gap that separated his side from safety.

Despite Dame N'Doye not quite working out as he had hoped, the signings of the aforementioned Kone, Jan Kirchhoff and Wahbi Khazri helped to transform the team from an outfit that crumbled under the first sign of pressure to one that was difficult to beat.

The three permanent signings cost just under £14m in total, with Kirchhoff proving to be the best value of the three after signing for a measly fee of £750,000 from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich and going on to hold down the defensive midfield position with ease.

Another window like that in the summer and Sunderland will have little trouble in moving towards becoming an established Premier League outfit.

Is Allardyce the man to finally take the club forward?

It is well publicised that Sunderland have a habit of hiring managers to keep them up, only to see them fail in the following season and terminate their contract early, with the last manager to complete a full season at the Stadium of Light being Steve Bruce back in the 2010/11 campaign.

It has been said about previous managers, but perhaps Allardyce is the one to finally take the Black Cats forward and steer them clear of the constant relegation battles that they find themselves in season after season.

Jamie Carragher and Sunderland legend Niall Quinn seemed to think so on Sky Sports after last night's game, and Sunderland fans will hope that they are right, as they have seen enough late escapology acts to last a lifetime.