What a difference a week makes, last Sunday was one of the best days we’ve ever had at the Stadium of Light, the sun was beaming, the atmosphere was electric and Jermaine Defoe gave us a moment that we’ll never forget. Fast forward to Saturday at 5pm and yet again Sunderland capitulated in front of a 42,000+ crowd.
With 6 games to go there are 7 teams in the relegation fight: Sunderland, QPR, Burnley, Leicester, Aston Villa, West Brom and Hull.
Comparing our own plight to those around us, the main and most concerning aspect is the lack of goals. Aston Villa are the only team to score less goals than us this season, and with their strikers now finding the net this puts us in an even more precarious situation. Dick Advocaat's side look more threatening going forward than his predecessors but with our top goal scorer, Adam Johnson, on just 5, it's clear Dick needs to get those strikers firing....and quick.
Our inability to find the net has plagued us all season, failing to score in fourteen premier league games this season. So coming up against Southampton and Chelsea who have the two best defensive records in the league is going to be a very stern test, add to that a trip to the Emirates and Goodison park and it starts to look rather ominous.
The remaining fixtures are as follows:
Sunderland - Stoke (a), Southampton (h), Everton (a), Leicester (h), Arsenal (a), Chelsea (a)
QPR - West Ham (h), Liverpool (a), Man City (a), Newcastle (h), Leicester (a)
Burnley - Everton (a), Leicester (h), West Ham (a), Hull (a), Stoke (h), Aston Villa (a)
Leicester - Swansea (h), Burnley (a), Chelsea (h), Newcastle (h), Southampton (h), Sunderland (a), QPR (h)
Aston Villa - Man City (a), Everton (h), West Ham (h), Southampton (a), Burnley (h)
West Brom - Palace (a), Liverpool (h), Man Utd (a), Newcastle (a), Chelsea (h), Arsenal (a)
Hull - Palace (a), Liverpool (h), Arsenal (h), Burnley (h), Tottenham (a), Man Utd (h)
We’ve won 5 games and scored just 25 goals all season, a truly pitiful return considering the quality in the league currently. Looking at those teams around us, if we do manage to avoid the drop this season it wont be down to our own quality but the ineptitude of those teams around us.
History dictates that an average 37 points will avoid relegation, this season could be as low as 35. If it goes down to the last two games and we’re needing a win then i’m afraid i don’t see us staying in the league. Two wins and a draw should see us safe, but with just 5 wins all season I look at the next four games scratching my head at where these will come from. Everton and Leicester have both picked up in form and Southampton are still battling for Europe. Win at Stoke and get a point either against Everton or Southampton and the Leicester game will probably decide our fate.
We've flirted with relegation in each season since our promotion during the 2006/2007 season and this season we could very well pay the price. Last year Gus declared we needed a miracle, this time it’s in our hands, the issue is, failure to kick on has now become a Sunderland tradition.