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Sunderland require improvement against top half teams to beat Coventry - and to be promoted!

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Improving our results against teams positioned in the top half of League One may prove to be the difference that will eventually see Sunderland promoted.

Sunderland v Fleetwood Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

A quarter of the season remaining, second against fourth, three-point gap and both teams have won four of the last five – this Sunday’s game is all set up to be the biggest of the season so far, and that’s without even mentioning any of the rivalry between the two clubs from years gone by.

Coventry City go into the weekend with the advantage of a three-point cushion but also knowing they have a game in hand over Sunderland which can be used to extend the gap or merely re-establish the original cushion. For Sunderland this means that the priority becomes avoiding defeat to stay in the mix.

The Sky Blues also have home advantage where despite playing at Birmingham City’s St Andrews this season they currently hold the sixth best home form in League One. This matches Sunderland’s away record where we also currently have the sixth most profitable away record in League One.

Sunderland v Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light
Benji Kimpioka celebrating after scoring a last minute equaliser against Coventry City back in November 2019.
Photo by Dave Howarth/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

Unfortunately looking deeper into our away record ahead of this weekend’s game shows two different sides to our form. Against the current top ten in League One we have won only one of seven games so far – against Oxford United in mid-February.

Of the other six games away from home against the top ten this season two have been drawn, and we have suffered defeat in four – meaning we have picked up five points from a possible twenty-one.

Expanding this out to include the home games against the top 10 from League One we have picked up only 18 from a possible 42 points compared to picking up 33 from a possible 45 points from the bottom 10 sides.

Sunderland v Fleetwood Town - Sky Bet League One
Max Power celebrating his equaliser against Fleetwood Town in the seventh minute of stoppage time.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Zeroing in on our away form against the top six in League One shows we have so far played Wycombe Wanderers, Peterborough United and Portsmouth where we have experienced defeat in all three with Coventry City and Rotherham United still to play from the top six as it currently stands.

Of our eleven remaining games of the 2019-20 season four are against teams in the current top ten - and the two most important of those may prove to be the away games against the top two beginning with Sunday and at Rotherham United on the final day of the season.

If our we improve our record against the better sides in League One it’s likely we’ll start next season as a Championship side – let’s hope this begins on Sunday in Birmingham.