Here it comes. The stiffest challenge for a while to Sunderland’s entitlement to Premier Division status. We’ve been playing well without being able to beat lesser opponents; can we give ourselves a real fighting chance of survival by turning that improvement into points plural against the leaders?
Only a year ago, Leicester were rock bottom. Their great escape made ours look like day release with an electronic tag. And we all know what they’ve gone on and done since under Claudio Ranieri.
Ability comes into it, of course. You simply cannot go 32 games at this level and lose only three of them without playing some highly effective football. They have star performers, too, in Vardy, Drinkwater, a solid defence and more besides. But as the season has progressed, confidence has fed confidence and that factor may be 30-40 per cent of the reason they are where they are now.
But the massive gulf in points and position should not make our players feel inferior on Sunday. Danny Simpson is still the Danny Simpson we knew despite some cracking displays for Leicester this season and there are others who are not, in all honesty, miles above our men in equivalent positions in terms of natural talent.
If Big Sam gets their mindset, and his selection right, we can give Leicester a fright. Our recent play hints at the possibility of a season-saving run of results. If he fails, we could lose by more than the 1-0 that the opposition has lately made a habit.
Winning is important to us though a reverse would not be fatal provided results at Palace and Southampton did not add salt to the wounds. That’s the important need: to stop our overall ranking getting worse prior to that momentous game at Carrow Road.
So Guess the Score. Usual rules apply – first to post the correct scoreline before kickoff wins. By “wins”, I mean the same as offered last week: a mug bought from petty cash. But I attach the same condition – Leicester fans and Sunderland pessimists are fully entitled to enter, but only a correct answer predicting a Sunderland win qualifies for the prize.
It’s arbitrary, it’s unfair and it’s as it has to be. Sorry!
Ha’way the Lads.