Sunderland’s pluckiness makes them good bet to stay up

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Paolo Di Canio and Gus Poyet have both had seven games in charge of Sunderland this season and while the Uruguayan has collected seven more points than his predecessor during his stint, the north east club still anchor the Premier League.

Despite their rock-bottom standing the 6/5 on them staying up this term looks cherry ripe given the improvements Poyet has made since arriving at the Stadium of Light.

Though their 4-3 loss to Chelsea last time out may not indicate it, Poyet has installed some defensive backbone into his new charges. Under his guidance John O’Shea and his back-line cronies have conceded more than two goals in a game twice, while it occurred four times under Di Canio’s watch.

The Mackems’ home form has been an encouraging sign under the ex-Brighton boss too, taking six points from the nine available since he was hired. The schedule at their own ground looks favourable now, with only Tottenham and Everton from the current top six due to visit for the rest of the season.

Even their defeats under Poyet come packed with positives. They twice rallied from losing positions to worry Jose Mourinho’s side, drawing praise from the Portuguese after the match, and were hampered in games against Hull and Stoke by receiving red cards in both matches.

But perhaps the easiest change to spot since the shuffle in regime is the growing team spirit around the club.

So, while there are still certainly aspects that need improving, Poyet’s men are certainly serving up enough evidence to suggest that they are far from a lost top-flight cause, making a punt on them a tempting proposition.

Elsewhere in the market fellow recent-hirers Crystal Palace are rated as the 4/1 outsiders to survive the drop, while Fulham and new boss Rene Meulensteen are the longest odds-on shot available at 10/11.

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

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.