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Make Your Case: Will Sunderland Be Relegated?

@GRokerReport and @CalMackay90 go head to head again this week, taking each other on as they argue about whether or not Sunderland will be relegated this season. Who do you agree with? Vote in the poll at the bottom of the article.

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@GRokerReport - Wear Staying Up!

When I watch Sunderland, I don't see a team that deserves to be in the bottom three. I see a side that should be sat smack bang in the middle of the table aiming to get as close to the top ten as I can.

Unfortunately, the reality is that we started the season badly under Dick Advocaat and our form has only taken an upturn since Sam Allardyce has been able to make changes to his playing squad. The team we've seen since the Manchester City game is completely different to the one that began the season, but the result of our poor start is that we now have to play catchup, and do it quick.

Looking at our remaining games, I'm hopeful. We're now outside the drop zone on goal difference, which means very little other than we need to hope the teams around us continue to struggle throughout the rest of the month.

Crucially, Norwich have now dropped in to the bottom three and looking at their remaining games, I just don't see how they are going to survive. The same goes for Villa, who have been unofficially down for quite some time in my eyes. For me that leaves one other spot open for one of us, Newcastle or Swansea to take up.

Swansea's last four games are Leicester, Liverpool, West Ham and Man City. Do you back them to survive?

Newcastle cannot win away from home, so they're banking on winning most of their home games if they're going to scrape by. Do you think they're confident?

I feel we can go to Southampton on Saturday and take three points. There, I said it. I've seen enough in recent weeks to suggest we are more than capable, and in order to stay up winning games against the league's better teams is essential. Imagine going into that Newcastle game with a win under our belts? Our run against them has been phenomenal and ending this month with two wins is not beyond us.

We're ten times better now than we were in December, and I feel we've got enough to get the four wins I believe will be enough to survive. Beat Norwich, Newcastle, West Brom and Stoke and try and collect as many points from the rest as we can. It's certainly not going to be easy, but I think we've got it in us.

One thing we've all learned in recent times is that writing Sunderland off before it's mathematically impossible for us to survive is very, very stupid. Don't be stupid.

@CalMackay90 - Wear Down!

As much as this hurts me to admit, I’ve thought we’d go down since August and I’ve seen little to convince me otherwise. I am a die hard Sunderland fan and nothing would make me happier than survival, but I cannot escape an unerring realism that often robs me of blissful ignorance regarding many matters in life.

If you look at the form of Newcastle and Norwich over the last 10 games, you will see what can only be called a huge, gaping window of opportunity. Newcastle have got 8 points from the last 30 available, while Norwich have achieved 7 points in the last last 30 available. In my view, this sort of form cannot go on forever and sooner or later, one, the other, or both of these teams will string together two or three wins in a row. We are out of the bottom three on goal difference, which is a kind of psychological boost, but one four or five goal deficit loss and we’re right back in again. And that wouldn’t be the most unlikely thing to have ever happened.

Villa are all but down, so it’s a four horse horse race for the two remaining relegation spots - us, Newcastle, Norwich and Swansea. Swansea have what none of the rest of us have -a stable defence. They’re picking up points since their new manager came in and, while six of their last seven are incredibly tough games, they have four winnable fixtures amongst their next seven games and are very capable of collecting the points to not have to worry about these fixtures. Their game at the weekend against Norwich is a huge game for the relegation picture, offering both the opportunity to move away from the relegation zone and place the other in real trouble, while a draw does neither any favours. Both will go for the win.

We have tougher remaining fixtures than Newcastle, who have six opponents not in the top ten, including games against the four teams they’re scrapping against to escape relegation. Other than our games against West Brom, Norwich and Newcastle, we’re against top ten teams, including Chelsea, Arsenal, Leicester and Everton at home. Our goal difference is starting to look even more shaky isn’t it? It’s tough to predict how these will go, but on paper, Newcastle have easier fixtures.

We have Norwich and Newcastle still to play, but both away from home. Newcastle is not so daunting (wink), but Carrow Road has never been a happy hunting ground for Sunderland in the league. Having seen our inability to make the correct decisions in front of goal, our poor passing in the final third and our inability to keep a clean sheet, in does not bode well. I just can’t see us winning both those games, as well as three others to guarantee safety. We are very much relying on the inadequacies of others, but we’ve been relying on that for months and have failed to take advantage of it.

I believe Norwich will get relegated, as their defence leaks goals and they don’t score enough goals to subsidise this. They do have a few goal scorers, but they’ll fall short in my view. Newcastle have the quality up front to win a game despite their woeful defence and once Mbemba comes back, I believe they’ll escape by the skin of their teeth. Swansea’s defence is the foundation on which they will secure the victories needed to escape. I believe it is us and Norwich to go down.

Play with fire long enough and you’re going to get burned and we have done plenty of that these past few seasons. This season we have a better squad, playing reasonable football and a manager who never gets relegated. What could be more Sunderland than to get relegated now?

Who do you side with? Vote in the poll below.

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