Former Manchester City and Middlesbrough winger Adam Johnson has sparkled in recent performances for Sunderland. His form has led to some questioning whether he should be included in England’s world cup squad and he looks to have sparked Sunderland back in to life.
Johnson’s goal in Sunderland’s 1-0 win at home to Stoke was his fifth in his last 4 games and lifted Sunderland out of the relegation places for the time being. Johnson has impressed in the last few weeks, notably scoring a hat-trick and setting up the other in a 4-1 win away at Fulham.
It’s no coincidence that his good run of form has coincided with Sunderland’s. Gus Poyet’s team have lost just 1 of their last 8 Premier League games, amassing 16 points in the process(4). Johnson has added some much need creativity to a team which had looked destined for the Championship, but now survival is certainly on the cards.
Johnson has provided 2 assists in the last 4 games(3). Johnson’s move to get regular football seems to finally be paying off as he looks like the player he once was and he looks to be playing with more freedom than in the past. He now has a chance to win silverware in the League Cup final, where he’ll face former employers Manchester City.
The 26 year old has now scored 6 goals in 15 appearances so far this season(3), he is now Sunderland’s top scorer, having scored twice as many as second placed Steven Fletcher. He has also provided the most assists (3) in the Sunderland team(1). Johnson’s willingness to run at people is shown by the fact that he has the second highest number of completed dribbles per game on average with 1.2. These figures perhaps say more about the kind of season that Sunderland have been having than how good Johnson has been.
In terms of England, Johnson has represented his nation 12 times, scoring 2 goals(2). He has played best on the right of an attacking 3 for Sunderland, due to Theo Walcott’s injury that is a position that is definitely up for grabs. The main contenders would be Andros Townsend and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. If Johnson’s current form continues Roy Hodgson will certainly have to consider putting the Sunderland winger in his squad.
Johnson’s weakness is certainly defensively. He is averaging just 0.3 tackles per game, the lowest in the Sunderland squad and is making just 0.5 interceptions per game. His defensive capabilities may be what let him down in the end, when compared with his competitors for the England place. Especially when you consider the emphasis Roy Hodgson places on work rate, being hard to beat and defensively sound.
Up next for Johnson is the Tyne-Wear derby where he’ll be looking to give Sunderland a third consecutive win against Newcastle, another good performance tomorrow and the rumours of England selection will only continue, and rightly so.