Few would have predicted Sunderland to record a 2-1 victory against Southampton last week, and in doing so giving them even more hope of Premier League survival.
The Black Cats remain in the bottom three, but are just a point from safety with a game in hand.
Their next challenge is a visit of Everton, against a Toffees side that have won their last four games at home, and haven’t lost at Goodison in 11 fixtures.
One might assume that Dick Advocaat’s men need to take a ‘must win’ approach into the game on Merseyside, but their victory over the Saints last time out allows them some leeway.
What’s more, with the way other teams around them are performing, a draw may well be a suitable result this weekend.
Rivals Newcastle continue to plummet, while Hull who currently sit in 17th have lost four of their last six, and it could be as little as three points from their remaining four games that sees Sunderland safe.
Arsenal and Chelsea round off the Black Cats’ season, so many will expect the Stadium of Light outfit to need those points in the next two matches.
But with both London sides with effectively nothing left to play for, there could be far worse times to face them both.
A match against a rejuvenated Leicester side will be key on May 16, and with home advantage, Sunderland could bag the required win there.
Four of the Mackems’ wins this season have come on their own patch, so they could be value to halt the Foxes resurgence.
But first, a return to the style of play that saw Gus Poyet lead the side to goalless draws against Liverpool and Chelsea back in November and December, in which they frustrated their opponents, could be on the cards.
The Wearsiders have rarely been overrun on the road (the 8-0 Southampton debacle aside), conceding more than one goal in only three of their last 13 away games.
By the same token though, they are hardly prolific in front of goal, scoring just two in their last five on opposition ground.
In, short beating Everton will be very tricky with the form they are in, and for Sunderland it could pay in the long run to just shut-up-shop and avoid defeat at Goodison.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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