The month of January was a particularly good one for Sunderland as they managed two wins and a draw from their four games, and a large portion of the credit goes to England international Adam Johnson. The winger was in sublime form as he netted five goals in the four games to propel Sunderland outside the relegation zone.
In the first game of the month against Aston Villa, Sunderland were lackluster in their 0-1 home defeat as they seemed to continue rebound from their relative recovery late in December. Adam Johnson did not start the game, but was brought on late in the game. He failed to make an impact on the game as Sunderland lost the match.
However, in the next game at Fulham ten days later, Johnson got the chance to make his mark on the game, and make his mark he did, scoring a hat trick and assisting the other goal. His play was full of purpose, mixed with intent and guile as he looked to justify his sheer talent. He wasn’t afraid to run at defenders, cutting in from the right hand side to devastating effect, and was a threat for the entire game.
He continued his role as Sunderland’s savior in their next game against Southampton with an assist for Borini’s goal and scored the leveler himself. He was up against one of the best young full-backs in the league in Luke Shaw, and he still managed to create one and score one, much to the fans’ delight. His confidence was high, and that showed in the way in which he jinked his way to the edge of the box to smash the ball past Boruc.
In the final game of the month against Stoke, Johnson showed glimpses of his ability, stemming from the confidence of his excellent form. He gave Stoke left back Erik Pieters a torrid time as he managed to get beyond the Dutchman on numerous occasions to put dangerous balls into the box. Compared to his previous effort, it was more of a poachers goal from Johnson, as he was present at the right place at the right time to tap the ball in after Asmir Begovic had spilled a Borini effort.
Looking at some of the numbers for the month, Johnson scored 5 goals in 276 minutes of football in the month of January. In that time, he attempted a total of 60 passes, 77% of which found their target, creating 6 chances including 2 assists. Of the 7 shots that he attempted, 6 of them were on target, and 5 of them resulted in goals, an outstanding return.
He also contributed defensively, making 3 interceptions and 3 clearances in the four games. Even though he failed in the two tackles he attempted, he did manage to win 50% of the 14 take-ons, and he suffered six fouls in the process. However, he did not attempt any headed duels in these four appearances.
With the kind of form that Johnson has displayed this month, if he manages to maintain it for the rest of the season, Sunderland should find themselves clear of the drop zone, and it might just get him a ticket to the World Cup in Brazil.
( Stats via Squawka)