The 10 key reasons behind Sunderland's promotion push
Sunderland have made a decent start to life in League One, and sit in the play-off positions with games in hand on their rivals.
But what are the reasons behind their promotion push?
We look at 10 key stats behind Sunderland’s good start to the season.
1. Home form is key
Sunderland haven’t lost at the Stadium of Light this season to ensure they keep their home a fortress this season as they challenge for promotion. Only Luton Town have a better home record than the Black Cats this season.
2. Best of British and academy bearing fruit
Against Bradford, Sunderland fielded a team of only British and Irish players.
It is huge credit to the successful academy who have been responsible for promoting so many homegrown players into the first team.
3. On the attack
Sunderland’s attacking threat has been admirable and to score more than 1.5 goals in each match is something Jack Ross should be proud about. Last season, scoring was an issue – it certainly isn’t the case this time around.
4. Strength in depth
Squad strength has been important. Injuries, suspensions and more have hit hard already with Jack Ross having used 24 players in League One games already. That is a big number but it shows how good the squad is.
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The ability to come from behind has been key for Sunderland – they’ve needed to do so often this term. 31% of goals Sunderland have conceded have occurred in the first 15 minutes, yet despite going behind they have lost just once this season.
6. Maj-ic man
Josh Maja has scored a goal in League One every 107 minutes on average – he has nine in 12 so far and is the League One top goalscorer ahead of established strikers John Marquis, Matthew Godden, Kieffer Moore and Lyle Taylor.
7. Catt attack
Lee Cattermole is having his best goalscoring season ever. Jack Ross has revitalized the midfielder who now has three goals to his name in 10 appearances, a brace against AFC Wimbledon and the opener in a 1-1 draw against Coventry City.
8. Digging deep
Team spirit has been huge this season for Jack Ross’ side. Three times they’ve been reduced to 10 men but on all three occasions – at home to Oxford United and Peterborough, and at Bradford City on Saturday – they have rallied, battled and not been beaten.
9. Fan-tastic support
What about that home support? The crowds have been increasing with the average attendance rising from 27,635 to a rounded 30,000. The closest team to Sunderland’s attendance is Portsmouth who average 18,404.
10. Safe hands
Sunderland finally have a good keeper – Jon McLaughlin. Against Fleetwood Town he became the first SAFC goalkeeper to save a penalty at the Stadium of Light since it opened and saved another penalty against Bradford to earn another point. After last season's horror shows from Jason Steele and Lee Camp, it is good to have some safe hands in goal.