Saturday will see Sunderland entertain visitors Sheffield United, who arrive in 5th place and boasting a 100% home record. However, the Blades have picked nothing up on their travels - a good omen perhaps.
Sunderland, however, come into the game in 19th looking to kick start their season after two straight league defeats, coupled with disappointing performances and no goals. Since adding depth to the squad on deadline day, Grayson will have a few dilemmas regarding starting 11, this is how I expect, and would like to see Sunderland start;
I've gone for Ruitter in goal still, despite a shaky start, he showed promise in pre-season and I believe a run of games in the first team may be all it takes for him to rediscover that form.
The defence too I would like to see remain unchanged as consistency is very much key to a good and solid back line. Although the Barnsley performance was nothing short of shambolic - chopping and changing the defence every time a mistake is made wouldn't allow for the communication and awareness required between what is a newly assembled back four to develop. It would be counter - productive.
Although Bryan Oviedo came in for much criticism post - Barnsley I believe he is still the best option once he has a few games under his belt, given his ability to both attack and defend on his day. I don't think Brendan Galloway has what it takes yet. Despite the deadline day arrival of Marc Wilson from Stoke, who has much Premier League experience, I believe his versatility perhaps makes him better suited to a substitute/cover role at the club - additionally a right footed left back can be very frustrating to watch going forward, as has been demonstrated on numerous occasions by Billy Jones.
Once again, disregarding the Barnsley game, Aiden McGeady, Lee Cattermole and Didier Ndong have been among the best performers in the team and on paper are some of the highest quality players at the club. For those reasons I believe they should all retain their place.
As much as I've loved having a local lad in the team, with unbelievable work ethic and desire, I reckon George Honeyman should be dropped to make way for free signing Callum McManaman, leaving Honeyman as an impact sub to get at tired defences late in games. I'm very much looking forward to seeing McManaman play, he's shown he's got the quality before, a pacy winger with an eye for goal and at just 26 his best is yet to come. Getting him for nothing was a shrewd bit of business indeed, especially when you take into account the ludicrous sums of money being paid nowadays for players with far less quality and experience.
Upfront I think we've got a striker, in Lewis Grabban, who can put away chances should they be created for him - as he's shown. However in past games we've just not created enough for him. In order to rectify this we need to bring in the creative Williams, who's got a point to prove if he wants to fulfil his undeniable potential, at the expense of James Vaughan. For me, this would help us make the most of our time on the ball, transitioning possession into an attack more often. If Williams can find space in between the lines of the opposition's defence and midfield then he could prove a real asset in firing us up the table.
Sounds simple doesn't it? In reality of course, it isn't. Sheffield United are a good footballing side, they play free flowing, attacking football, scoring over 90 goals last season. Utd Boss Wilder likens their playing style to that of Tottenham and they could pose a threat for anybody on their day. They strengthened well on a frenzied deadline day too, bringing in proven championship scorer Clayton Donaldson from Birmingham to partner the prolific Billy Sharp. Sheffield United's deadline day was documented in this truly fascinating video showing what it's really like behind the scenes - a cracking, eye opening watch for any football fan.
My super 6 prediction reads 2-1 Sunderland, and I've tried not to let my heart get in the way of my head there, although it probably has. I'm not massively confident of the result mind you, but if we play to the best of our ability it should be a fairly straight forward 3 points. Another sub-standard performance we'll definitely be punished. Here's hoping!