Monsieur Salut says: win on Wednesday and the Lads should be given the freedom of Sunderland, whether or not that still entitles holders to drive their flocks of sheep across Wearmouth bridge. It wouldn’t make a bad season great but it would give us all proper reason to believe the future can be brighter (yes I know) and enable us to breathe freely on Sunday. Read on to see how you can win the prize …
Let nobody be too quick to count chickens. There’s still scope for snatching misery from the jaws of bliss.
Saturday’s outstanding comeback to beat Chelsea, coupled with defeat for Norwich and a draw at Villa for Newcastle, gave us great hope. And that hope that can be turned into reality on Wednesday night. As every schoolboy should know, Sunderland stay up if they win.
But Everton will present professional, committed opposition and will be expected by their supporters and manager Roberto Martinez to try as hard to win this game as they would any other.
Big Sam has already achieved wonders, turning around a wretched season, slowly at first but – once his recruitment and offloading were done in January – more steadily since. Too many promising games have brought us one point when three were there to be taken, but the ultimately deserved 3-2 defeat of Chelsea added substance to the survival battle just when it was needed.
In my snap prediction for ESPN FC, I opted modestly for a 1-1 draw, admitting that even a point was a tall order.
But in my full preview piece, I said the following:
* … in the cases of Khazri and Borini, Allardyce can be comforted by the knowledge that both tend to raise their games at home and against superior opposition.
** one point could be turned into three if there is a concerted team effort, with Defoe again showing his magical goalscoring touch and Borini remembering what it felt like [a fortnight after that 4-3 defeat in the Premier League in Dec 2013], when he helped Sunderland beat Chelsea on the way to the League Cup final.
I am delighted to have picked the three men who would be our special heroes, as well as calling for the concerted team effort we saw increasingly as the game progressed and we dealt better with Chelsea’s passing and movement.
Defoe is a marvel. It hardly took any great foresight to suggest he might make the difference on Saturday and he will again be our main hope for Wednesday. But it matters not a hoot who rises above the rest to secure the points that the supporters, Sam and – yes – the players – merit.
Now Guess the Score. I will again stump up for a mug if someone correctly predicts a Sunderland win and is first to do so. Everton fans will have to accept rewards in heaven, or also forecast a home win, as this is another partisan edition of the competition. Usual rules apply and the winner must have a UK delivery address.
Remember the equivalent penultimate game two seasons ago, when we beat West Brom 2-0 to ensure survival? The goals came from Jack C*lb*c* and Fabio. I’d forgotten how the first came until reminded by a BBC report that it was a “stabbed finish” but I shall never forget Borini’s clincher, an exquisite finish from Seb Larsson’s sublime pass.
More like that will do nicely against Everton,.
Ha’way the Lads. One last push to make Sunday a day of celebration of our version of winning the title every year. And the Stadium of Light crowd will again be immense.