From Saturday April 1st to Sunday April 9th, Sunderland will play three games. They are currently seven points from safety and these three upcoming matches could prove vital in the team’s survival hopes. If they are unable to pick up points from these three games it is highly likely that the gap to safety could be too much to make up. If this is the case, then there will be no great escape this time around.
Saturday April 1st—Away vs Watford
Neither side have won in their last four games, with both picking up just a single point. If results go against Sunderland, they could be nine points adrift come Saturday evening. This will not be an easy game, though. The Hornets, currently on 31 points and seven points above the relegation zone, will want a victory to ensure they aren’t brought into the dreaded relegation fight.
Sunderland fans do have some hope to cling onto. Their last away victory was a 4-0 demolition away at Crystal Palace. Jermain Defoe, the main goal scoring threat for Sunderland, is back from his international duty return on a high and will now be determined to stay in the England squad. If he scores the goals to help Sunderland, then he will have every chance of doing so.
Tuesday April 4th—Away vs Leicester City
The Foxes are currently in top form, having replaced the man who led them to the Premier League title last season. Since Claudio Ranieri left, City have returned to the form that led to so much success last year. Any relegation fears have now eased and they have also qualified for the quarter-final of the Champions League; the only British team to do so this season.
The Black Cats will have to be in top form to secure vital points in this game. 11 goals in their last four outings shows that City are in form and will take some stopping. The champions may have one eye on their game against Atlético Madrid, and if so, Sunderland will have to take advantage of this.
Sunday April 9th—Home vs Manchester United
Many will predict a United win here and few could argue against that. Sunderland, however, did beat the Red Devils last season at the Stadium of Light on their way to escaping relegation. David Moyes will also be wanting to beat the team that he will feel let him go too soon. Sunderland do also have previous in beating the so called “big boys” when it really matters; United, Chelsea and Manchester City have all left the Stadium of Light empty handed in recent seasons. A home victory cannot be ruled out.
Moyes and fans alike will be delighted to hear that influential midfielder Lee Cattermole is back in training and could feature for the first team very soon. Cattermole has only featured three times this season and his presence and leadership has been missed. Victor Anichebe is also on the road to a first team return. His return near the end of last year saw the team’s form pick up.
Time to go for it
For long spells this season, Sunderland they have not been the attacking threat they could be. Injuries and loss of form and confidence have played a part, and a reluctance on Moyes’s part to play individuals, such as Wahbi Khazri, who could unlock a defence and supply Jermain Defoe has been frustrating. With a defence that is prone to leaking goals, attacking from the off may now be the best form of defence.
The last word
It is safe to say that negative results in these games will surely see Sunderland play Championship football next season. Regardless, a victory in the first of these three vital games should breed confidence that is badly needed on Wearside. The Black Cats cannot now rely on others due to the points difference. Now is the time for those players saying all the right things in the media to perform on the pitch. Now is the time that Sunderland really must go for it. If they don’t, then there will only be one outcome.