Sunderland have to start turning these draws into wins because at the moment a point a game is not enough. Last weekend was a weekend of mixed emotion for many reasons. Norwich beat Newcastle to push them further away from survival, but we also didn’t bury our chances once again, thanks to Ben Foster, against West Brom at home, but we did manage to keep our first clean sheet since the end of November.
I think I said it in my previous blog but I’ll say it again, the three games against Crystal Palace, Southampton and Newcastle could cost us our Premier League survival as we only took three points from those games from winning positions. Of course, the start to the season we had hasn’t helped, or our torrid performances in December, but now we’ve started performing a bit better, you can’t help but feel those were the games that could have saved our season.
This weekend coming is a huge one too. Newcastle are away to Southampton and Norwich are away to Crystal Palace. The Newcastle result could be somewhat irrelevant as we focus on chasing Norwich and although they are away, they will fancy their chances against a Alan Pardew’s side, who are without a Premier League win in 2016. Both of those teams play on Saturday whereas we are the early kick-off on Sunday against the league leaders Leicester. This could work either in our favour or against it as we will know the results beforehand.
If I’m honest, I can’t see us getting a win but a draw is a possibility. However, are draws good enough at this stage of the season? If Norwich lose then yes a point would be a good result, but if they win and we fail to get anything, it’s almost like the relegation battle is over. Providing results go our way, it makes the game away to Norwich even bigger in our bid for survival. It’s all very confusing at the moment as so much can happen in the short space of time left this season.
When you look at our run-in, you have to think we are going to struggle to stay up. The only saving grace is that four of the seven remaining games are at home and we have a game in hand against the other two, but then again it is against Everton. However, picking up wins against the likes of Leicester, Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton at home would be the most typical Sunderland thing that could happen. May I cast your minds back to when Gus Poyet pulled off the Great Escape after drawing with Man City away, beating Chelsea away, beating Cardiff at home, then a week later beating Manchester United away before finishing it off with a win at home to West Brom. Basically, anything can happen.
I think it all comes down to the results on Saturday. If they do go our way, maybe the lads will be up for it come Sunday dinner-time and can somehow cause an upset against the league leaders Leicester. If we do get a result on Sunday, I firmly believe we can stay up.