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Sunderland: Alex Neil must unleash Luke O’Nien against QPR

Sunderland are back in Championship action this afternoon with a home clash against Queens Park Rangers.

The Black Cats suffered a disappointing 2-0 defeat against Sheffield Wednesday in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, after managing to pick up their first league win of the season last weekend.

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Sunderland striker Ross Stewart in action

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On the chalkboard

Now that Alex Neil’s side are back in league action in front of their home fans, this will be the best way for them to put their midweek defeat behind them and continue picking up points in the Championship.

In terms of what Neil’s starting XI could look like, one figure that was involved in the defeat against Wednesday that we feel should be in from the beginning on this occasion is Luke O’Nien.

After coming on as a second-half substitute in Sunderland’s 1-1 draw against Coventry City, the midfielder was an unused substitute in last weekend’s win over Bristol City.

The 27-year-old then completed the full 90 minutes against Wednesday in midweek and put in a performance that will have given his manager a question to ask over whether he keeps his place in the team this time around for his first league start of the campaign.

Against the Yorkshire club, the Englishman, who has been hailed as a “revelation” in the past by Jack Ross, had 81 touches of the ball in total and completed 50 of the 55 passes he attempted, with two key passes and one shot on target under his belt.

Should Luke O'Nien start against QPR?

Yes

Yes

No

No

From a defensive point of view, O’Nien won 14 of the 16 duels he was involved in, as well as making one clearance, three interceptions and seven tackles, which is more tackles than any other Black Cats player managed to make on the day.

This display ultimately earned him an impressive overall match rating of 7.9/10 from SofaScore, making him the highest-rated Sunderland player on the day, even higher than the likes of Elliot Embleton, who has appeared in both of the Black Cats’ opening two league games of the season.

Moving forward, with today’s opponents boasting the third-best rate for goals per shot (0.21) in the division, having someone with O’Nien’s defensive attributes in the team could be the best way for Sunderland to pick up a positive result.

Article title: Sunderland: Alex Neil must unleash Luke O’Nien against QPR

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