Seven games remain in our season, and it's been 18 since we last suffered defeat, back in December when down to 10 men against Portsmouth. We have won three on the trot, or six of our last eight games, putting ourselves in control of our own destiny for automatic promotion.
However, the last two victories have been a result of a successful switch in formation. 4-4-2 with Will Grigg and Charlie Wyke leading the line has delivered, particularly for the latter who is playing his best football since arriving last summer.
I think the last big question Jack Ross needs to figure the answer to as we move towards judgement day in League One is whether to stick or twist. we've got a poll at the end of the article for you to take part in if you fancy it. There are many benefits to 4-4-2, not least that is seems to suit Wyke and give our wingers more purpose and space, but there are also drawbacks. Can we control midfields with the same dominance we've shown in recent months? We did against Accrington at there place, but the system completely flopped against the same side at home. We were not at our fluid best then or against Rochdale, so switching to a 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 formation is probably the safer option .
However, can we afford to play it safe? No. We have to grab games by the scruff of the neck, and in such a congested period of fixtures, having consistency both in our system and performances is what will get us back into the Championship.
Social media says...
Here at WeAreWearside we love to present Sunderland fans' views because, quite frankly, we know nowt and it saves you having to read 500-600 words of my waffle. So we put the question to the people - framing the alternative as 4-3-3 (simply because I think our wingers tend to be more advanced than the left or right midfield 4-5-1 presents).
The Twitter poll results showed 87% of 346 voters siding with 4-4-2. Conclusive. What about Facebook?
89% in favour (sorry desktop users the image will probably look tiny to you). Again, 4-4-2 getting massive support from our social media followers.
The Fan Panel
There is one other smaller group of fans we like to lean on, our dedicated fan panel. If you fancy joining, you can let us know by clicking here to send me an email. Here is a trio of responses from them on the question of our best formation;
Grigg struggles to with high balls and is ineffective on his own. Unless we play like Man City with balls played to feet then we need Wyke up front with him. Let other teams worry about our players and our strengths we have the better players. - Howard
We need to win 5 of our last 7 games, and overhaul then maintain a goal difference over Barnsley. Playing 2 up front would appear to be the best way to do this, especially now that Wyke and Grigg appear to have the origins of a partnership. Although with our strength in depth of midfielders, I would not be disappointed to see us play 3-5-2 in some games. Fleetwood, for example, seem to play 4-3-3, so it may be worth flooding our midfield to completely swamp them in that area and cut off supply to their forwards. - Paul
Difficult question since Wyke is finally finding some form, I think I'd like McGeady feeding Grigg in a 4-5-1 formation. - Staffan
Eventhough there is some acceptance that 4-4-2 is not the be all and end all, it would seem the masses agree it's our best chance of sealing promotion. Paul's point of tactical flexibility is something to consider, perhaps not at the start of games but absolutely beyond half time. There is bound to be another first half like the home game at Accrington and we have to be prepared to change things quickly as and when required.
Looks like it's 4-4-2 again for this evening, and three more points hopefully!
Just for the craic, we've asked the same question in the poll below too.