Inspired striker to ensure Sunderland leapfrog Cardiff

The phrase ‘relegation six-pointer’ is used a little too liberally during the Premier League run-in, but this clash between Sunderland and Cardiff is every inch a nine-pointer by anyone’s standards.

Sunderland’s season was careering towards Premier League oblivion just two games ago, but all of a sudden those followers of the Black Cats really believe they’re rejuvenated side can scramble to safety.

No less than a couple of minutes away from recording a famous victory at the Etihad before conceding a stinging equaliser, Gus Poyet’s side harnessed that confidence by travelling to Stamford Bridge and promptly doing the unthinkable.

Sunderland’s 2-1 victory over Chelsea ended a 77-game Premier League unbeaten run in west London for manager Jose Mourinho over his two stints and, simultaneously cemented belief in the Wearsiders’ ranks that survival was indeed possible.

It’s not to ignore the fact that 3/1-shots Cardiff also arrive fresh from an unexpected win at Southampton to maintain a two-point gap over the Black Cats, but Sunderland’s price of 10/11 is more appealing because of a certain goalscorer.

Having played many times for the England U-21’s in the past, Connor Wickham’s career was on the slide having been farmed out to first Sheffield Wednesday and then Leeds in the Championship this season.

However, Poyet’s bold decision to bring the striker back from the wilderness has proven an inspired one.

Wickham has paid back the Uruguayan’s faith by netting first in the draw with City, then firing in a match-winning brace at Chelsea.

Wickham is a 7/4 chance to score anytime at the Stadium of Light, while 11/2 says he can grab the first goal of the game.

However, a wincast in which Sunderland take three of the ‘hugest’ three points of their season with Wickham scoring looks a treat at 5/2.

The draw – a 12/5 chance with Ladbrokes – would be about as useful as an inflatable dartboard with so few points left to play for.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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