Should Grayson stick with both Cattermole (pictured above) and Ndong? Picture credit: Nigel French/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The old cliche is that you shouldn’t look at the league table until 10 games have been played.

It’s around the ten game mark that fans can begin to get an idea of which teams will be pulling away at the top and which will be fighting for their lives come May.

Unfortunately for Sunderland fans, it currently looks as if they will be in the second category.

That’s unless results change drastically. With still only one win to their names this season, Simon Grayson’s side need to get points on the board quickly if they want to climb away from trouble.

And this weekend seems a perfect chance to start turning their fortunes around – a trip to Brentford, who themselves have only won twice this campaign, could prove an ideal opportunity to pick up a valuable three points.

But something will have to change if Sunderland are going to turn their slump around.

There’s certainly plenty of options for Grayson to tinker with, and here SportsByte examines five of the key choices he will have to make ahead of the trip to Griffin Park:

Cattermole or Ndong?

The last two games have shown that the pair are struggling to play alongside each other, especially if Grayson persists with a 4-4-2.

Whether the duo could form an effective partnership in a slightly different system remains to be seen, especially after they looked comfortable alongside each other on the opening day of the season against Derby. Grayson himself admitted that his midfield pair had failed to ‘dominate’ the opposition, suggesting he may well drop one of the two.

But which one? Ndong, the Black Cats’ record signing, started the season fairly brightly but has faded in recent games. He certainly has the ability to pull the strings in the centre of the park but has been far from impressive in his last few outings.

While Cattermole has also been far from spectacular himself this season, his ability to break up the play could be exactly what Sunderland need as a base to push forward from. Yet with Ndong beside him, this side of Cattermole’s game seems to be somewhat restricted.

It’s a tough decision for Grayson as both are talented players, but surely the Sunderland boss must realise that if he continues playing the pair together in the current system then they will keep on stifling each other.

A recall for Kone?

Grayson confirmed in his press conference this week that Lamine Kone had recovered from illness and could return to the squad against Brentford.

The Ivorian has far from impressed this season but, with fellow defensive pair Marc Wilson and Tylas Browning both looking set to miss out, Kone may yet be handed a recall.

But it’s doubtful whether Kone’s skill set lends itself well to the challenge posed by Brentford. With Ollie Watkins and Lasse Vibe a likely front pairing, Kone may struggle to deal with the pace and movement of the duo.

When up against a physical frontman Kone is likely to relish the challenge, but his lack of pace has been shown up already this season and a similarly poor display could prove the catalyst for another defeat.

Steele or Ruiter?

A debate which has raged on since the start of the season and is still seemingly yet to be resolved.

For the most part Grayson has kept faith with Steele, but with Sunderland having the third worst defensive record in the division a change may be called for.

Steele has been singled out as a main cause for Sunderland’s poor rearguard this season and it’s hard to argue against the fact that the former Blackburn stopper has been at fault.

While Ruiter is arguably still getting accustomed to English football, his performances when called upon this season have been promising to say the least.

A recall at Brentford therefore wouldn’t be a surprise and could hand Sunderland a little bit of extra defensive bite.

Change in System?

Grayson has stuck with a 4-4-2 for the majority of this season, but could the poor form warrant a change?

It’s worth questioning whether Sunderland have attacking firepower to play two out-and-out strikers, while the previously mentioned issue of Ndong and Cattermole’s partnership suggests a midfield shake-up could well be in order.

A 4-3-3 could play to Sunderland’s strengths, with one striker supported by the likes of Aiden McGeady, Duncan Watmore and Ndong in more advanced midfield roles while Cattermole could sit and mop up any danger.

If the results continue to be negative, then Grayson will surely have to consider a switch in shape.

Does Grabban Start?

After having to be taken off with an injury during the home defeat to Nottingham Forest, Lewis Grabban made his return from the bench last weekend.

The loanee must now surely be in contention for a start at Griffin Park, and it’s easy to see why.

Grabban has netted three already this season, second only to McGeady in the Black Cats’ scoring charts, and  Sunderland desperately need goals.

The concern will likely be any recurrence of the injury, but if there’s a chance that Grabban can play he surely must.