Sunderland 2-0 Stoke City: Five things learned
Duncan Watmore's late strike ensured Sunderland collected all three points. (Photo: Sunderland AFC)

Sunderland defeated Stoke City 2-0 on Saturday afternoon to lift themselves out of the relegation zone.

Goals from Patrick van Aanholt and Duncan Watmore gave the Black Cats three points after Ryan Shawcross had been sent off for the Potters, meaning Sam Allardyce's side were able to make it back-to-back wins in the Premier League, following Monday's 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.

So, what can the manager learn from the performance that can help him maintain this form on Wearside and steer the side out of danger?

Sunderland have discovered a gem in Duncan Watmore

Watmore replaced the injured Jermain Defoe after just over half an hour of the game had been played, and he made an immediate impact, causing the visiting backline all sorts of problems.

The youngster used his pace effectively as he started running at players, with Shawcross being the first player to foul the talented forward and ultimately the last he fouled too, with a second half foul on the winger seeing him sent off for a second yellow.

Watmore sent the Black Cats fans into raptures with the powerful strike that capped off his display as well, DeAndre Yedlin taking a quick throw-in which the substitute pounced upon before firing beyond Jack Butland to double Sunderland’s lead.

The display showed signs from the Sunderland man that he is perhaps ready to nail down a starting berth each week, and not for the first time this season either.

M’Vila crucial to the team

French midfielder Yann M'Vila has gone down a real treat on Wearside and must be the first name on the team sheet following his excellent start to the season.

He bossed the midfield again in the win over Stoke with an energetic performance, dominating with his powerful running and effective passing, and his will to win hasn’t gone unnoticed at the Stadium of Light.

M’Vila could have scored a goal of his own following a delightful pass from Jeremain Lens too, albeit Butland made a smart save to deny him.

The on-loan midfielder has shown great passion since arriving, even dubbing the Tyne-Wear derby as the best game he's ever experienced, and his attitude is surely one that the fans will hope to keep on a permanent basis when the season comes to a close.

Sam Allardyce has his tactics spot on

Sunderland have adopted a new formation since Allardyce’s arrival and it seems to have worked wonders. Defensively, against Stoke the team looked solid throughout with the visitors finding it hard to muster up any real chances.

The trio in midfield in the 3-5-2 - made up of M'Vila, Lee Cattermole and Sebastian Larsson - offered real protection to the back three with energetic performances.

Furthermore, the set-up had aided individuals too, with van Aanholt and Sebastian Coates in particular having showed real progression with resolute performances since Big Sam’s’ arrival.

Sunderland dictated the affair at the Stadium of Light with each player fighting for the ball, determined to lift themselves out of the bottom three. Every player in a red and white shirt understands their role and it was certainly a complete performance both offensively and defensively.

Kaboul continues to perform

Younes Kaboul has played a key role since moving to the North East. Though he started slowly with some sloppy performances, when firing on all cylinders not much gets past him.

The former Tottenham Hotspur man put in a man of the match performance against Crystal Palace on Monday night and was a contender again here as he isn’t putting a foot wrong at present.

Kaboul continued to impress in the air and his anticipation of the game has been key to Sunderland’s last two wins. It is vital that the Frenchman stays fit as he finds himself in a rich vein of form, as one would not want him to slip back into his below-par ways of the early part of the season.

Result important for form ahead of tough run

It was crucial the Black Cats picked up three points in this game as the next few fixtures will prove to be tricky.

A trip to the Emirates next weekend to face Arsenal will be more than tough, whilst Watford's visit to the Stadium of Light after that will be a battle given that both teams are fighting for the same aim.

Back-to-back away games then follow as Sunderland make a daunting trip to Manchester City before looking to continue Chelsea's woes. Despite hard fixtures coming up, Allardyce and his side will hope to continue their form putting a scalp on one of the big boys, and with these two wins under their belt, they will be confident in doing so too.

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