Relief. That was the overriding feeling in the Sunderland press room after the final whistle against QPR. Not because their six game losing streak had come to an end, but the stark realisation that the Black Cats had one man to thank for a nightmare not becoming a reality.

"I’m a coach that doesn’t take any satisfaction whatsoever that a goalie has kept us in the game because that would say to me, that there’s a chain of events leading up to that point that we can either stop or make better decisions with," Dodds said reflecting on Anthony Patterson's impact on the game.

"On the flipside, I’ve got to praise Patto because it’s an unbelievable save – he didn’t have a huge amount to do in the game but that’s the sign of a top goalie that when you’re called upon you can make a big save.

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"I know this year he’s had some criticism and I think that save in itself and in the moment we’re at, justifies the comments and our belief as a football club that he’s one of the best goalies in the league."

It was a game that could have very well gotten away from Sunderland, as their dreadful run of form continues. Dodds' side failed to register a single shot on target against one of the Championship's strugglers and had it not been for Patterson, they could well have been on the receiving end of another defeat.

The Black Cats academy graduate pulled off a good diving save to deny Ilias Chair in the first-half, after some sloppy play from Dan Ballard in the heart of defence, but his save in the 87th minute to deny Chris Willock, a defining moment as Sunderland picked up their first clean sheet since New Year's Day.

We Are Sunderland: Queen's Park Rangers efforts against Sunderland, with Chris Willock's (highlighted in orange) the highest in terms of xG from either side.Queen's Park Rangers efforts against Sunderland, with Chris Willock's (highlighted in orange) the highest in terms of xG from either side. (Image: StatsBomb)

Substitute Sinclair Armstrong caused Sunderland plenty of problems when he came onto the pitch, forcing Patterson into a save at his near post in the 84th minute, just moments before setting up Willock, who forced the Black Cats goalkeeper into the save that ensured a share of the spoils, scrambling down to his right.

The xG of that effort was pretty high at 0.35, suggesting most opportunities, like the one we witnessed, would end up in the back of the net.

Patterson, who's still only 23-year-old, has come under fire this season for some of his performances, but the statistics from the campaign as a whole suggests that has been unfair.

The red and white goalkeeper positions himself really well in the build-up to that save, wary that Armstrong may try to sneak the ball in at the front post like he did minutes earlier, but he also positions himself well to be able to scramble across his goalmouth to block the shot.

We Are Sunderland: Anthony Patterson produced a brilliant save to deny Chris Willock in the dying embers of the game against QPR.Anthony Patterson produced a brilliant save to deny Chris Willock in the dying embers of the game against QPR. (Image: Wyscout)

According to StatsBomb, Patterson ranks fifth overall in the Championship when you compare goalkeepers in the division on the following metrics; shot stopping percentage, goals conceded, PSxG faced (Post Shot xG earned from on-target shots), shots faced, GSAA (Goals saved above average), save percentage, expected save percentage and minutes played.

But what do some of those mean? 

GSAA - How many goals did the keeper save/concede versus expectation (post-shot xG faced)? This is representative of how many goals the goalkeeper's saves prevented wthin a season.

PSxG faced - Total post-shot xG of on-target shots faced by the goalkeeper, as predicted from a trained and calibrated model of only shots on target. Penalties not included.

Expected save percentage - Given the post-shot xG (modelled from on frame location) of shots faced by the goalkeeper what % would we expect them to save?

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Goalkeeper Aggressive Distance - An average value of how far from the goal the goalkeeper is coming forward to perform defensive actions.

Goalkeeper OBV - On Ball Value Added (net) Goalkeeper.

Claims - CCAA% - Claims or CCAA% (Claimable Collection Attempts over Average), is a measure of how likely the goalkeeper is to attempt to claim a "claimable" pass, versus the average goalkeeper attempted claim rate.

We Are Sunderland: Anthony Patterson ranks among the best goalkeepers in the Championship.Anthony Patterson ranks among the best goalkeepers in the Championship. (Image: StatsBomb)If we compare Patterson to the rest of the Championship this season, he fares better than the league average in terms of shot stopping, Goalkeeper OBV, long ball accuracy and plays less passes into dangerous areas.

However, he's slightly worse off, compared to the league average, in terms of positional errors, while he also claims less crosses and is less aggressive in coming for the ball.

Norwich City's Angus Gunn comes in as number one goalkeeper in the second tier, Watford's Daniel Bachmann in second, with Coventry City's Brad Collins in third and Leicester City's Mads Hermansen in fourth. Leeds United's Illan Meslier, who has the best defensive record in the league in terms of goals conceded, is in sixth.


We Are Sunderland: How Anthony Patterson compares to the rest of the goalkeeper's in the Championship.How Anthony Patterson compares to the rest of the goalkeeper's in the Championship. (Image: StatsBomb)For all there can be questions over Patterson's play when he has the ball at his feet, when you compare him to the rest of the Championship, he's among the top performers but struggles in terms of bringing on ball value - which in truth - very few goalkeepers bring a high rating in that department.

He must also get a lot of credit for his availability. Recently taking home the gong for 100 consecutive appearances for the club, the first player to do so this century and just the seventh to do so in the entire history of the club.

Sunderland may be in a poor run of form, but still have one of the best defensive records in the division, even if they did ship four goals away at Southampton.

We Are Sunderland: How Sunderland compare to the rest of the Championship for goals conceded.How Sunderland compare to the rest of the Championship for goals conceded. (Image: StatsBomb)Patterson has been a key component in that statistic, with Sunderland performing better than the league average. Which may seem strange given they'd lost six games on the bounce prior to the draw with QPR.

But it's worth baring in mind the Black Cats tend to lose games by just a one goal margin, rather than being blown away like they were at St. Mary's.

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Still, if you look at that recent game against Southampton, Patterson was on hand to spare Sunderland's blushes, much like he did in the week leading up to that game, in the defeat to Leicester City.

Dodds was right to double down on his claim that Patterson is one of the best goalkeepers in the league and at just 23-years-old, his best years are ahead of him.

It should come as no surprise to see him linked with a number of Premier League clubs, with him destined to play in the top flight at some stage in his career.