Who from Sunderland impressed and who didn't in the 0-0 draw with Stoke City? Our player ratings are in!
Simon Mignolet - 7
The big Belgian was probably Sunderland's most influential player which tells its own worrying story. That said, he was not required to do anything at all special.
Craig Gardner - 5
Struggled at times against the tricky and elusive Michael Kightly, but generally did OK. Obvious sense of frustration creeping into his game however as he struggles to contain his desire to get involved further up the pitch.
Danny Rose - 5
Steady without being spectacular. Wound up the home support who seemed to take exception to his distaste for being hit in the face.
Carlos Cuellar - 6
Never an easy task to try and contain the aerial threat of Peter Crouch but did it well. Good solid performance.
John O'Shea - 6
See Carlos Cuellar.
Lee Cattermole - 7
Was very good to have the skipper back and he showed why he is so important. With him, the team has a much better shape and, oddly, a lot more discipline in maintaining it. Made a difference.
Jack Colback - 6
He has been struggling a little of late but thought he did better today. Looked far more relaxed with Cattermole back and was able to concentrate more on getting himself on the ball and trying to move it. He did it OK. In a performance in which the Sunderland support for the man in possession was generally poor, Colback's willingness to try and provide it was important.
Seb Larsson - 6
The Swede was withdrawn early after a heft Dean Whitehead challenge but I am not sure he was much of a miss. It is getting to the point where by the ambiguity over his position is starting to rankle. If he is to be used in the middle, give him a chance to adjust to the role. If not, then stop using him there.
Adam Johnson - 5
In and out of the game but without much tangible effect. A step in the right direction, but not a very big one.
James McClean - 5
Still not bubbling but still not hiding either. Very good without the ball, pretty anonymous with it. Given Sunderland's performance in its entirety could be summed up similarly, he shouldn't come in for any special criticism.
Steven Fletcher - 7
Best player on the pitch in the first half with an immaculate first touch and desire to hold the ball. Faded after the break and will probably be ruing that chance that Huth blocked. Very good performance in the main, though.
Stephane Sessegnon - 6
More like his old self. Came very close to creating the pivotal moment in the game. Given O'Neill something to think about for 'Boro.
Phil Bardsley - 5
Not much of an influence at all. Not necessarily a bad thing for a defender.
Louis Saha - 5
Didn't have much of a chance to do anything.
Man Of The Match: Lee Cattermole
Cattermole put in a solid Captain's performance which wiped out the memory of the red card in his last outing. His presence in midfield afforded us the chance to look a) very good without the ball b) incredibly organised and c) allowed Jack Colback to get back to what he does best, playing it around rather than being a ball winner.