Two Up, Two Down: Analysis of the positives and negatives of Sunderland’s win over Bristol City

Malc Dugdale says…

Two more!

Ellis Sims

What a start from the player on loan from Everton!

Two goals, lots of promise and finally someone who can play alongside Stewart. Top notch performance.

Nathan who?


We’re on a new level and we fell behind in the game, but we came back and held on to win. We haven’t finished the transfer window, but showing that kind of resilience at the start of the season is encouraging.

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Defensive weaknesses

We looked shaky in the back, and Lynden Gooch was particularly unconvincing. We need to be stronger in defence, although the second half was better in places.

Midfield issues

In the first half, we had nothing in the engine room.

I don’t know if it was a form issue or a personnel issue, but we need to figure out how to establish greater dominance in this area.

When Alex Pritchard and Dan Neil took the ball, we did very well. We won’t always win games if we don’t do as well in the middle, so there are lessons to be learned.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Andrew Smithson says…

Two more!

Play on the front foot

Before kick-off, it looked like Alex Neil was going with two up top, and that turned out to be the case.

Changing teams, after finding a weak point in the opposition, worked well, and sometimes we played good attacking football.

We’ve shown we can create chances at this level, and players like Ross Stewart, Ellis Simms and Jack Clarke (who I think had one of his best games for us) will trouble most teams in the Championship. in their time.


One of the things Neil will have been aware of is the fact that Bristol City struggled to maintain their lead last season.

So it was good to see us keeping our composure and not panicking after falling behind in the second half. The level of drawing so soon after was a huge boost, and from then on we took over.

Hopefully we’ll see more of that mental toughness in the weeks to come.

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A few nervous moments

We saw some really good ultimate defenses on Saturday, but a consequence of our attacking spirit is that we’re going to concede chances, and that’s not good for the old heart rate.

There may even be games where we lose playing like that, but that will be normal for any team that likes to be open as much as possible.

I’m glad Sunderland are going out and trying to win games, even if it means we’re biting our nails watching them do it!

Radio Gaga!

Before the game, I was contacted by a relative who asked for my help in getting the game commentary on the radio. Unfortunately, following the transfer of all Sunderland games by Radio Newcastle to DAB, they had to miss out.

I know this has been the case for a while now, but it’s still a deeply frustrating and insidious decision that points to a much bigger problem. The sooner Radio Sunderland goes live, the better.

Bristol City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Kingsley Reavley says…

Two more!

The form of Jack Clarke

Ellis Simms will get plenty of applause, and deservedly so, but Clarke was excellent on the left side.

He’s beaten his man nine times out of ten, and his final ball and decision-making are improving all the time. The way he handles the ball, draws in the defender and then walks away reminds me of Aiden McGeady at his best.

This could be a huge season for Clarke. There’s huge potential there, and you can see why Tottenham paid such a high fee to sign him from Leeds.


After many years of companions and luck, this game showed that we finally have the makings of a dynamic team, with some young players and experienced bosses who really care about the future of the club and who are all pulling in the same direction.

They may not be successful every week, but we can see the desire, the hunger, the work rate, the commitment and the bodies involved.

All of these may seem obvious, but they’ve often been rare in recent years.

two down

Lightweight in central midfield

We need a solid and experienced midfielder to support Corry Evans.

The ideal would have been to bring in such a player on Saturday, to calm the nerves and interrupt the game as the match dragged on and we clung to victory.

Luke O’Nien hasn’t played in the Championship, and he still seems to be a jack of all trades and a master of none, so he’s not the answer.

I hope there’s someone lined up.

Rear issues

Has Alex Neil decided that Dennis Cirkin and Lynden Gooch are his favorite full-backs for the season? It seems so, and I can’t be the only fan slightly concerned about this.

We’ve been calling for specialist full-backs for a while now, and the way Gooch got caught for the opening goal was reminiscent of a striker trying to defend, which he is indeed.

Bristol City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Michael Dunne says…

Two more!

Ellis Sims

What else can you say other than “what a start”?

I really didn’t expect this kind of impact from Simms, and he completely exceeded my expectations. He played the role of the perfect striker, and both of his goals were finished off sublimely.

He could have even scored a hat-trick, which would have been madness for his first match. The impact he had was huge, given all the rumors surrounding Nathan Broadhead, and hopefully he can sustain that.

Our defensive duo

Dan Ballard and Danny Baath were superb on Saturday.

Although we conceded two goals, they probably prevented a few more and Ballard in particular was immense. I love how close he gets to the player he’s marking and how he doesn’t give them a moment of peace.

Also, his distribution from the back is better than expected so far, and I think we could have a good deal with this guy.

two down

Sunderland midfielder

I’m a bit worried about our midfield, and we could definitely use reinforcements there.

We often look a little light in that area, and I felt we were overwhelmed by Bristol’s midfield at times.

We often struggled to set up our gameplay on Saturdays, especially in the first half, and I think we would benefit from having someone with a physical presence, who is comfortable on the ball at middle of the park.

Botched goals conceded

We’ve been a bit careless with the goals we’ve conceded so far.

The Championship is clearly a tougher league, but Alex Neil would have been very disappointed with how easily the goals were scored.

With QPR scoring three goals against Middlesbrough on Saturday our next opponents, it’s something Neil will no doubt be analyzing over the next few days.

Bristol City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Two Up, Two Down: Analysis of the positives and negatives of Sunderland’s win over Bristol City

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