Sunderland returned to winning ways on Saturday in League One as they were able to beat Portsmouth 1-0 at the Stadium of Light.
They had failed to win all of their last three outings in the division, drawing with Wycombe and Accrington Stanley either side of a defeat to Lincoln.
Elliot Embleton scored the only goal of the game against Pompey to leave the Black Cats second in the table after 28 matches. Although, third-placed Rotherham are one point behind them with two games in hand and that could see them drop out of the automatic places.
Although Embleton won the match with his strike, another player who stood out for Lee Johnson’s side was left wing-back Dennis Cirkin. The summer signing from Tottenham was sublime on the flank and was a shining light for the head coach.
Defensively, he was outstanding. As per SofaScore, he won a whopping 13 duels – prevailing in 13 of 16 in total in the ground and in the air, including 10 of 11 of the former. He also made six tackles, one interception and one block, whilst he was not dribbled past once in the entire game.
This shows that he was near-on perfect defensively as he did not allow Portsmouth to gain much ground down his side of the pitch. He was strong in his individual duels and carried his own weight to help Sunderland to a massive three points.
On the ball, Cirkin helped to relieve some pressure on his side. Via SofaScore, he was fouled a whopping four times whilst having 60 touches of the ball. This means that he was able to force the opposition into fouling him to reset the play and allow Sunderland to remain in control, breaking up any momentum for Pompey. Although, he could have been more assured in his passing as he only completed 59% of his passes.
Overall, the beast was Johnson’s shining light against the south coast side as he was able to put in an excellent performance down the left flank, catching the eye with his display. The ex-Bristol City head coach will surely be hoping that he is able to put in similar showings between now and the end of the campaign as his defensive quality was there for all to see and he could be key in the promotion battle to come.