Date: 15th April 2016 at 7:18pm
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Position: 14th
Games: 13
Points: 15

d v Sunderland - Newcastle goalkeeper Robert Elliot is helpless to stop Jermain Defoe of Sunderland (L) as he scores their 1st goal - Photo: Simon Stacpoole / Offside.

Jermain Defoe opens the scoring for Sunderland during last month’s 1-1 Tyne-Wear derby draw against Newcastle – Photo: Simon Stacpoole/Offside.

Twenty-sixteen has been somewhat a little nicer in terms of Sunderland’s fate so far, with the Black Cats giving themselves a better chance of survival following 13 outings already this year.

Sam Allaryce’s men, who currently sit third from bottom in the Premier League table, four points adrift of safety with only six league games remaining, kick-off this weekend’s English top-flight action with an incredibly crucial visit to fellow relegation rivals Norwich City.

A pivotal victory at Carrow Road will give Sunderland the belief and momentum to beat the drop with just a handful of fixtures to go; but an agonising back-to-back defeat for the travelling Black Cats would leave the visitors seven points adrift of 17th place and more or less staring Championship football next term in the face.

Four draws in their previous five outings; including a 1-1 draw against arch rivals Newcastle United at St James’ Park (Pictured), has kept Sunderland’s survival mission on track to a minimal extent, but they desperately need to quickly convert those stalemates into all three points to avoid joining Aston Villa in the second-tier of English football beyond this summer.

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