Sunderland set up another great escape with Norwich win

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Unlike Aston Villa, Sunderland are refusing to give up on their Premier League status without a fight.

The Mackems’ win over fellow strugglers Norwich City means if they win their game in hand they will be out of the drop zone.

This is not a new phenomenon for the Black Cats, who have a history of steering clear of trouble against the odds.

Indeed, last season they were in the exact same position they are now, 18th with five games remaining and were able to get themselves out of it.

Back-to-back wins against Southampton and Everton dragged them up to 16th and they didn’t lose again until the final match of the season, when they faced eventual champions Chelsea.

They were in even worse shape the campaign before that, sitting bottom of the table at this point in proceedings.

Four victories in a row, including against Manchester United and the Blues, saw them finish 14th.

Sam Allardyce’s side face another tough set of fixtures in their quest to remain in the Premier League, with Arsenal, Stoke, Chelsea, Everton and Watford their opponents.

The triumphs of two terms ago show they can beat the big teams when they need to, while they have enough reasons to feel confident going into their other matches.

Patrick van Aanholt and Duncan Watmore scored in the last 10 minutes to secure a 2-0 win when the Mackems hosted Stoke earlier in the season, while the Potters have little to play for in the upcoming encounter.

Furthermore, facing two FA Cup semi-finalists has its advantages, as if Everton and Watford make it to the final their minds will likely be on Wembley rather than Sunderland, as they can’t achieve anything in the Premier League.

Since their quarter-final wins, the Hornets have only won once, while the Toffees are still yet to pick up a victory and both have clearly been distracted by their runs.

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

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Dan Ross

After a brief stint as a commentator, Dan took his passion for football into writing and went on to gain an NCTJ in sports journalism. A lifelong Walsall fan, he's followed the Saddlers through the highs, getting to Wembley for the first time ever last season, and the lows, namely relegation to League Two in 2006.