Crewe Alexandra manager David Artell claimed that ‘terrific’ Sunderland are the best team he has come up against this season after Tuesday’s 1-0 League One defeat at the Stadium of Light, while speaking to the club’s official website.
Three days after the most professional of 2-0 wins away at Swindon Town, Phil Parkinson had three more points and yet another clean sheet to savour as the Black Cats moved up to fifth in the embryonic League One table.
A Luke Offord own goal might have been the difference between the two sides in midweek, but the 1-0 score line does not even come close to reflecting Sunderland’s dominance against a Crewe side who spent most of the night hanging on by their fingernails.
“I cannot fault the effort and endeavour of the players but sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say you have been beaten by the better side,” Artell said graciously at full-time.
“Sunderland are the best team we have faced this season by a distance. They are a terrific team and have good players. Their staff were complimentary about us as well.
“We stuck at it and kept in the game but did we do enough to deserve an equaliser? I don’t think so.”
Parkinson’s side might not be scoring goals for fun, with just seven in six games thus far, but their stellar defensive record is providing the platform for this season’s promotion push.
Sunderland have kept clean sheets now in six successive matches and haven’t conceded a single goal from open play throughout 2020/21.
Remarkably, the Black Cats have let in just three goals in the 12 games that Bailey Wright has started at centre-half with the Australian making a transformative impact on the third-tier giants.