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Arbenit Xhemajli may be Sunderland’s saviour

Sunderland boss Alex Neil picked up his first win in charge of the club at the weekend as his side beat Wigan 3-0 away from home.

Bailey Wright opened the scoring after two minutes and Ross Stewart scored two of his own to seal the three points, taking the Black Cats up to fifth – seven points off the automatic promotion places.

The match saw the return of central defender Arbenit Xhemajli as the gem made his first appearance in League One this season and he put in an excellent performance to help his side to a clean sheet and the win.

Will Xhemajli be a key player this season?

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Saviour

Neil may find the saviour he has been looking for at the back with the Kosovan, with his display at Wigan showing signs that he could be the missing piece in the defence.

As per SofaScore, he won nine of his 12 individual duels (75%) and made three clearances, whilst also completing one tackle and not being dribbled past a single time. This shows that he was defensively solid throughout the match as he dominated the opposition forwards and did not allow them much to work from as he won the majority of his battles at the back.

The Black Cats conceded 47 goals in their previous 34 League One games this season and their record suggests that Neil needs to find a solution to his defensive issues if he wants to seal promotion to the Championship. They have let in too many goals and the return of 23-year-old, Xhemajli, could be their saving grace in that department.

Phil Parkinson previously predicted him to be a “quick learner” and Black Cats icon Kevin Phillips backed him to make an impact when fit, saying:

“In Xhemajli they’ve got a player with good potential from what I’ve heard. In many ways it will be like a new signing, especially if he is fully fit for the start of pre-season.

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“I hope he hits the ground running. They have got a player on their books who could be a massive asset for them next season if they keep him fit.”

These comments and his excellent showing against Wigan suggest that he could have a big role to play between now and May if he is able to churn out a run of games in the side without picking up another injury.

If he can maintain the high standard he set at the weekend then he will be the saviour of the club’s season and potentially lead them to glory if the rest of the team is able to step up alongside him.

AND in other news, Speakman makes major call on “unbelievable” SAFC dynamo that’ll leave fans gutted…

Article title: Arbenit Xhemajli may be Sunderland’s saviour

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