Alex Neil’s Sunderland side finally ended their six-game winless run on Saturday afternoon, with the Mackems securing a highly impressive 3-0 victory at the home of one of their biggest promotion rivals, Wigan Athletic.
The victory sees the Black Cats retain their spot in the play-off places, as well as moving to within just seven points of Saturday’s opponents in the automatic promotion places.
However, aside from the fantastic result, the performances of a number of the Sunderland players will also have delighted Neil, with the two-goal Ross Stewart, the imperious centre-back Bailey Wright and the 21-year-old goalkeeper Anthony Patterson all shining against the Latics.
Although, it was undoubtedly the display of Alex Pritchard that most stood out on Saturday afternoon, as the 28-year-old once again ran the show from attacking midfield.
Indeed, over his 82 minutes on the pitch at the DW, the £2.25m-rated maestro was a continuous creative force for Neil, enjoying 49 touches of the ball, making two key passes, attempting seven crosses and four long balls and creating one big chance for his side – not to mention setting up Stewart for Sunderland’s first with a pin-point out-swinging free-kick.
The £8.5k-per-week Englishman also drew a whopping five fouls, won eight of his 14 duels, made one interception and one tackle and had two shots at the Wigan goal.
These returns saw the former England U21 international who Lee Johnson dubbed an “important” player earn a highly impressive SofaScore match rating of 7.6 – ranking him as the third-best player to feature in the match.
As such, should Pritchard be able to keep this level of form up going forwards, it would undoubtedly provide the Black Cats’ promotion hopes this season with a substantial boost – as the midfielder proved that he can “unlock doors” against the best sides in the league against the Latics.