Parts of Salut! Sunderland are a bag of nerves as the Tyne-Wear derby approaches. Six-in-a-row will count for nothing if Newcastle United end the run; even a draw may end up being insufficient depending on the result in WBA-Norwich on Saturday and, more important still, the outcome of Norwich’s forthcoming home games against both us and Newcastle. Here is an assessment of our chances, and how others rate them, from Noah Sparrow…
As the Premier League title race heats up, the fight for survival is also beginning to take shape.
It looks as though Aston Villa are almost destined for relegation this season, leaving a straight dogfight between Newcastle United, Norwich City and Sunderland. Two will go down, one will stay up – let’s hope Sam Allardyce’s men can accumulate enough points and send Newcastle (and Norwich) down to the Championship.
Right now, Sunderland are looking the most likely to avoid relegation this season.
The Black Cats have lost just once in five league games and Allardyce will be looking for his side to maintain their current momentum throughout the remainder of the campaign. At the time of writing, Betway price Sunderland at 1/2 to go down this season but many fans will believe they can still avoid the drop despite their precarious position.
Jermain Defoe will be crucial to Sunderland’s aspirations and the striker has started to find his feet in recent times. The former Tottenham frontman has netted 14 goals in 26 games for the club this season, including seven in his last 10. There’s still a long way to go but Defoe’s goals might be the key to avoiding relegation from the Premier League.
But it’s not just about Defoe. Football is a team effort and Sunderland will need plenty of endeavour if they are to remain in the top flight.
If truth be told, Newcastle appointing Rafa Benitez was the worst possible outcome for Sunderland fans as the Magpies now have a competent manager at the helm. With Steve McClaren at St James’ Park, Newcastle would almost certainly have succumbed to the drop. Now, it’s a difficult one to call.
On Sunday, Sunderland will travel to their arch-rivals for one of the most important Tyne-Wear derbies in years. The Black Cats have an excellent recent record over Newcastle and Betway, which is one of the more popular sport betting sites, price Allardyce’s side at 12/5 to pick up a crucial three points at St James’ Park.
Newcastle will be fired up for Benitez’s first home game but if Sunderland can keep the home crowd quiet, they stand a great chance of earning a positive result. Allardyce will know the importance of keeping discipline in a game like this, especially after Newcastle had a man sent off in Sunderland’s 3-0 victory earlier this season.
So, can Sunderland avoid the drop? Potentially. While Sunday’s game won’t define either side’s season, it is crucial for the Black Cats to pick up a positive result against their great rivals. If Sunderland can avoid defeat, it will give them a huge boost before the business end of the season and, with a bit of luck, Allardyce’s men will be celebrating at the end of the campaign after a Sunderland escape and a Newcastle relegation!