Gus Poyet’s side sits in 16th place with 10 matches left to play, just 4 points above the dreaded relegation zone. Sunderland are enjoying their 8th consecutive season in the Top Flight since their promotion in 2007. Sunderland lead the league in draws with 14, that’s 50% of the time they play. Unfortunately for the Black Cats, a draw only adds one point to the total. Another surprising stat, is the equal home & away record, both with 2 wins, 7 draws, and 5 losses. Sunderland’s backline has been relatively sound; with 39 goals conceded they are on par with 6th place Tottenham in that respect. However, the goals scored are on the other end of the spectrum with the second weakest attack in the league. January saw US International Jozy Altidore swapped for former England hitman Jermaine Defoe. A loan signing for Ricky Alvarez from Inter could end up being a vital piece in the puzzle. With Adam Johnson’s current legal issues, this Sunderland side are in need of some attacking flair. After a promising end to the previous season, Connor Wickham has regressed rather than progressed. Coach Poyet has lamented the injury to Will Buckley, the pacey wingman who provides great service as well as attacking width. This Sunderland side will need to rely on their experienced players who have been in this position before, finishing in the lower half of the table in 6 out of 7 seasons. It’s hard to have gone this far without mentioning my favorite Black Cat, Argentine Santiago Vergini. He is an absolute joy to watch. Although not the best defender, he has so much skill and a willingness to use it. How can you not love when a defender is willing to take players on in his own half?
FACT: Jozy Altidore scored more goals in his Toronto FC debut than his Premier League career for Sunderland.
FACT: Lee Cattermole has not been sent off this season. However he does have 10 bookings in 20 appearances.
FACT: Despite the potential loss of Adam Johnson, Sunderland have attacking options available with Ricky Alvarez and the injury return of Emanuele Giaccherini.
FICTION: Gus Poyet rejected the chance to sign his own son, Diego, because of a dispute over a pair of Copa Mundials.
VERDICT: The Black Cats have some proven Premiership players. They have finished 7 straight seasons in the bottom half of the table avoid the drop. I think that the January swap pushing Jozy Out-the-door for Jermaine Defoe will be the key to their survival. A couple wins in the final run-in and Sunderland will be on track for a 9th consecutive top flight season. Staying up.