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Transformed Sunderland a big price for late top-half surge

| 25.04.2013

Such has been the impact of Paolo Di Canio’s arrival at Sunderland, his side appear barely recognisable to that which took to the Stadium of Light pitch less than a month ago.

And despite the Italian’s insistence that his team remain locked in a relegation battle, it may be prudent to invest in further improvement from the Black Cats between now and the end of the season.

Back-to-back victories over Newcastle and Everton have lifted the Mackems six points clear of the drop zone, whilst only five points now separate them from the top 10.

Thus, with a renewed passion and vibrancy so wholly obvious in their play, Sunderland could prove a shrewd bet to achieve a top-half finish at 7/1.

Di Canio’s charges face a series of winnable remaining fixtures, with a trip to struggling Aston Villa preceding home bouts opposing the division’s joint fourth-worst away team in Stoke, and a Southampton side they have already beaten this season.

It also looks worth noting that the Black Cats haven’t lost on any of their last three visits to Villa Park, whilst they have failed to suffer a home defeat at the hands of Stoke since 1994.

A visit to top-four challengers Tottenham may prove the most troublesome of the Black Cats’ remaining games meanwhile, considering Spurs have won three of the past four encounters between the pair.

However, the White Hart Lane outfit do not traditionally possess the greatest record in their final seasonal outings.

Indeed, Tottenham have won only six of their 19 Premier League season-closers, with defeat most regularly prevailing from these fixtures, which would appear to bolster Sunderland’s top-10 hopes further.

But those who are still cautious regarding the Mackems’ top-half aspirations could instead focus on their efforts to finish as the highest-ranked North East club in the division.

The Black Cats are 8/11 to end the season above a Newcastle side they recently disposed of 3-0, and one in possession of the top flight’s worst away record.

With the Toon facing two matches on the road still, and home ties against opposition chasing European spots in Arsenal and Liverpool, Di Canio’s men look nailed-on to confirm their position above the Magpies in the Premier League.

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

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Author

John Klee