Like the Crystal Palace and Southampton results, I can’t help but feel it was, once again, two points dropped for us after Aleksandar Mitrovic’s header earned Newcastle a draw yesterday at St James' Park.
It is a concern that the last three games we’ve gone in front and not won any of them. However, we didn’t lose any of them and I’m convinced at the start of the season we wouldn’t have even got a point out of those games because of how open we were back then.
I am taking huge positives from how good we were for the first hour or so in the game. I said before the game that it probably suited Sunderland being the away team and, in the first-half in particular, it proved me right. We got into Newcastle’s faces, created two or three really good opportunities before deservedly going in front thanks to Jermain Defoe, who took his goal well. The celebration wasn’t half-bad either.
Even in the second-half, as much as we sat back, did Newcastle have any real clear-cut chances before they scored? I’m struggling to think of any. You could tell the home crowd were nervous and for the most part I felt we handled the occasion well.
Am I happy with a draw? Yes and no. No because we were leading for so long and not held on. Had we won we would have been out of the bottom three and four points clear of Newcastle, possibly giving them one foot in the Championship. But, if you were offered four points off Newcastle at the start of the season, I think a majority of our fans would have took it.
Being away from home in a derby, in most circumstances, the main objective is to not get beat so the situation would have been much worse had we lost at the weekend.
I do still think a point is a better result for Sunderland than for Newcastle despite Norwich’s annoying win at West Brom on Saturday.
I’m usually extremely pessimistic so I don’t know where my optimism comes from but two points is nothing compared to previous positions Sunderland have had to overturn. Just look at the great escape for proof of that. We can stay up.
I honestly don’t think a draw is a good result for Newcastle. If their away form doesn’t improve (we could do with them drawing against Norwich ideally) that puts huge pressure on them to win their home games.
Before Sunday, they would have targeted to beat Sunderland, Swansea and Crystal Palace as it’s generally difficult to see them getting anything out of Manchester City and Tottenham. But given how this season has gone, and how poor City have been since February, I'm definitely not ruling it out. There will be massive pressure on them to beat Swansea and Crystal Palace.
As a side note, wouldn’t it be so funny to watch Alan Pardew relegate Newcastle and help keep Sunderland up?
I’m thinking of going to Stoke with a friend and that is the same time Palace go to St James’ Park, so I’d love survival to be mathematically certain after our trip to the Britannia and hear that Pardew has sent his old club down. I know it’s very unlikely to happen but a guy can dream right?
Their other remaining fixtures include two massive away games from their perspective against Norwich and Aston Villa. I can see them beating Norwich personally. They also have to go to Southampton and Liverpool and both are hard trips so hopefully they’ll lose both of them.
As for Sunderland, Jan Kirchhoff has said our destiny is still in our own hands and he’s right. Although we didn’t win the derby, I felt avoiding defeat was just as important. We’re still a point and a place above Newcastle, only two points behind Norwich, who are by no means safe, still to play them and they have played game more. Win our remaining fixtures and we stay up but it’s much easier said than done of course.
We have got hard, but winnable games. I’m personally writing off Arsenal and Chelsea as I struggle to see us getting anything from both. West Brom, Leicester and Norwich are three huge games.
We have struggled to beat a Tony Pulis side the previous two seasons BUT both times Crystal Palace and West Brom respectively were in the thick of a relegation battle and desperate for points. This time they are all but mathematically safe and chances are might not have the same intensity this time which will hopefully work in Sunderland’s favour.
Leicester will start to get nervous as their chances of winning the Premier League become bigger and with that game being at the Stadium of Light, I think we should be targeting at least a draw there if not a win. Don’t get wrong, Leicester deserve to be top and have had an unbelievable season, but they’re not world beaters. Why can’t we beat them at home?
Norwich looks to be a must-win now. Our record at Carrow Road is appalling to say the least but IF (and it’s a huge if) we beat them then there’s every chance of staying up.
We now have ANOTHER two-week break with players going away on international duty. It’s crazy how the Tyne-Wear derby was the only fixture in four weeks really.
Let’s hope we are properly prepared and ready to go for the remaining eight games when everyone returns.