Sunderland show spirit to battle back with ten men and earn a precious point courtesy of a John O’Shea goal, after Jon Walters had struck from close range for visiting Stoke. Here’s the Stock Check on Monday night’s relegation scrap.
On the Up
When the Potters required vital goals, it’s been Walters who has been on hand to provide them. Three strikes in eight matches doesn’t sound that impressive but, when you consider that Stoke have notched just six goals in that spell, the scale of Walters’ contribution is clear. Quietly, he’s moved to eight goals for the season, surpassing last season’s tally with two games to spare. Walters is an unfashionable option but, if he remains classified in midfield next term and on Stoke spot-kicks, it’s clear he is a player that can be relied upon over the course of the season.
Another hugely unfashionable Fantasy signing, O’Shea has been Sunderland only real secure defensive asset. aside from Simon Mignolet in goal, but has attracted under 3% ownership. Those Fantasy managers will have been delighted with a second goal of the season tonight and, with four assists to his name, O’Shea has enjoyed a steady campaign, having also gained nine clean sheets.
A reckless “over the top” challenge on Stoke’s Charlie Adam saw Gardner receive a straight red after just 34 minutes, with Sunderland already a goal down. The Black Cats rallied without him but, with Steven Fletcher injured and Stephane Sessegnon suspended, Paolo Di Canio is now without his three leading scorers for the remaining two fixtures, although he it should be noted that he elected to start Gardner at right-back this evening.
The Stoke left-back was again introduced back into the starting lineup following recent hamstring problems and, for the second match running, was forced off as the injury plagued him once again. Wilson has not completed 90 minutes since Gameweek 31 and will again be a concern for Stoke’s remaining fixtures.