The bookies aren’t holding out much hope for Sunderland to be playing Premier League football next season, but the Black Cats can remain optimistic, at least for a little bit longer.
Sam Allardyce’s men went down 1-0 at home to Manchester City in midweek, but their performance showed a fight and willingness which may serve them well in weeks to come.
City stopper Joe Hart was called into action more than once at the Stadium of Light, but Ladbrokes still say Sunderland are doomed, with 1/7 on offer for the Wearsiders to go down.
However, there are reasons why Sunderland may yet still be in the top tier next term.
One of those is Jermain Defoe, and the striker was subject of attention from a few Premier League clubs last month including relegation-rivals Bournemouth.
The Englishman is still plenty capable of producing match-winning goals and all the money in the world won’t necessarily find you a striker with Defoe’s natural instinct.
Sunderland’s remaining matches aren’t too daunting either, with the Black Cats facing just one trip to a top-six team between now and the end of the season, and that’s at West Ham later this month.
Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal are all still to make the trip to the Stadium of Light, but each one of those teams has looked very beatable at times this season.
The Sunderland faithful can also take hope from the impressive debut of Lamine Kone, while fellow-January signing Jan Kirchoff was mightily better suited to a defensive protector role against Manuel Pellegrini’s men, revelling in keeping Yaya Toure quiet.
Further supporting the Sunderland cause is experience and this is a club which knows better than any other how to escape the drop.
In three successive seasons from 2013-2015 Sunderland have entered the final legs of the campaign needing results, and every time they came up trumps.
And with Aston Villa all but doomed, in all likeliness Sunderland are looking to avoid one of two relegation places, and there are at least five other sides who may end up filling those spots.
It’s a tough ask – Allardyce’s men need to basically double their points tally in just 14 games – but there are still enough reasons to be hopeful on Wearside.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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