Can Jack Ross mastermind yet another away victory to make the 800 mile round trip worth it for the fantastic away fans following his side?
What's the story so far?
Sunderland rock up to Home Park in red hot form with five wins out of five in all competitions. Last Saturday saw them dispatch Southend United in an entertaining affair at the Stadium of Light, one which saw a certain Aiden McGeady grab his first goal of the season.
Sunderland were at Southend from the off, showing a tenacity and intent on the ball that has been lacking from the start of their games this season. Jerome Sinclair nearly reaped the dividends when his header was pushed wide by the keeper at full stretch. Sunderland continued to probe Southend with a good passing game and attempting to stretch the away side's back four on the right hand side with the outstanding work of Lynden Gooch.
George Honeyman broke the dead lock around the half hour mark following some good work from his fellow academy graduate Gooch. The American international managed to curl an inviting cross into the box which was nodded home by the club captain.
Sunderland continued this pressure into the second half, scoring eight minutes after the interval. Chris Maguire intercepted mid way in the Southend half, strode forward and let loose with an absolute land to air missile of a shot which nestled into the top left hand bin. Beautiful stuff from the former Bury man who must fancy another goal of the month award.
McGeady then put the game to bed following some good work from top scorer Josh Maja to put him through 1 on 1 with the keeper and as a Champions League veteran he wasn't going to miss that one. McGeady's goal wrapped up the game to make it 3-0 Sunderland in front of a happy home crowd. Four victories in the league on the bounce, one point off an automatic promotion spot, three from the top of the league and the only side in the league to score in every game so far this season. The transformation from perpetual relegation candidates to league title contenders is astounding.
Plymouth, after struggling in their first 11 games of the season, find themselves as one of the in form sides going into this weekend. The Pilgrims have seen off Gillingham 3-1 and last weekend put Scunthorpe to the sword in a resounding 4-1 victory to continue their climb from the relegation zone.
Top scorer Freddie Ladapo has found a rich vein of form, managing to score five goals in his last three league outings for Argyle. He scored the first against Scunthorpe to get Argyle started. A former Scunthorpe player in Niall Canavan headed home from a corner to make it 2-0. The second half was filled with goals, Lee Novak grabbed one back for the hosts before goals from Joel Grant and Antoni Sarcevic put the result beyond the Irons to record an emphatic way victory.
The pleasing thing that Plymouth fans will be able to take from this is that all four goals were scored by four different players, proving that Argyle have goal scorers in their ranks.
Jack Ross continues to set high standards in the Sunderland camp. He wants to see his team not only improve, but sitting pretty at the top of the table. But even then the Scot wouldn't be satisfied as he wants to see his team stay there.
“It has been a good start for us and I think sometimes you can forget as time passes where you were when first came into the job.
“If I take myself back to that point then I would’ve said yes, but I think when you get into the meat of the season with high expectations you feel as though you should be top.
“That’s where we are striving to get to so until we get there and stay there then I won’t feel that satisfaction.
“I think a lot of people have grown to understand that this is a tough league and that it is not easy to win games.
“So, I would agree that we haven’t put it together for a complete 90-minute period but there has, been enough good elements to be happy with.
“If there is improvement to come within the squad then that should hold us in good stead as well.”
Plymouth manager Derek Adams, who knows Ross well from his time managing in Scotland, seems drawn to the same points most managers seem keen to point out before playing the Black Cats. Mainly that they're a former Premier League club and have a better playing squad to choose from.
“They have got players with them that have cost them a lot of money in previous years.
“They have got players who have played in the Premier League many times so it’s going to be a fascinating game against them on Saturday.
“We will approach it the same as we have been doing. We want to go and try to get the three points against them.
“We are obviously in confident mood after our two very good results.”
What could go down?
Sunderland and Plymouth have a number of players nearing return from injury, but this game comes too soon for most. Glenn Loovens is back in the squad following a few weeks out with a thigh problem. Argyle centre back Ryan Edwards misses out again after contracting a chest infection last weekend. Duncan Watmore will probably need some time in the under 23s before making a senior return to action. Top scorer Josh Maja could also return after struggling with an ankle niggle which kept him from the starting eleven against Southend.
It would also be nice to see teenage sensation Bali Mumba get some minutes under his belt with the England youth international signing his first senior contract yesterday.
Both sides like to play expansive and open football, something some Mackems might find surprising looking at Plymouth's league position. Their winger Grant can put a cross in or have a go himself while midfielder Sarcevic likes to chip in with a few goals himself if he can get further forward, a ploy that Adams will surely be asking his team to make. The big dangerman is top scorer Freddie Ladapo.
Plymouth will look to contain the in form Gooch and Maguire, who has proved be can score from anywhere if you give him a chance. They will also have to attempt to wrestle control from the midfield titan that is Lee Cattermole if they're to have any chances of breaching Jon McLaughlin's net. The competition for places in the Sunderland squad is as healthy as it's ever been, so it would be no surprise to see McGeady or maybe even Luke O'Nien get a chance considering they've chipped in with goals recently. But again, Sunderland will pass the ball quickly and cleanly trying to use wingers and full backs to stretch the game and make space in the middle. Maguire will maraude, Cattermole will clatter and Ross will most definitely be the boss.
If Sunderland can keep on top of Ladapo and Grant and prevent Sarcevic from getting into shooting positions it could be a long afternoon for Plymouth at home. The centre back partnership of Tom Flanagan and Jack Baldwin looks better with every game and Sunderland boast perhaps the best two wingers in the league in Maguire and Gooch. McLaughlin to keep another clean sheet. Maja to take his tally into double figures and Mumba to be rewarded for signing his new contract with some well deserved minutes.
Once again I'm going 2-0 Sunderland.
Ha'way the Lads.