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Sunderland can pull off great escape from relegation
26 January 2018, 11:35
Sunderland can pull off great escape from relegation
ATGImages / Shutterstock.com

Sunderland will have the weekend off from the Championship due to this weekend's FA Cup fixtures. The time off will give the club extra time to prepare for its midweek fixture on January 30th against Birmingham. Eighteen matches remain in the Championship season, and Sunderland could pull off a great escape from relegation.

The Black Cats were relegated from the Premier League at the end of last term. Despite starting life in the Championship undefeated from their first three fixtures, Sunderland suffered a massive dip in form right after. The team went three months without a win between August 18th and November 21st. The team endured nine losses during that run.

Since late November, results have improved somewhat. The team have only lost four of their last 10 matches, and have secured all three points in four of those games. It may not sound great, but there is reason to be optimistic. Sunderland have a chance at Championship survival thanks to the poor play of the teams around them.

The Black Cats are third from bottom on 25 points. The team is level with 21st place Hull City, but sit in the relegation zone thanks to an inferior goal difference. Sunderland are on the cusps of survival, but the team need to pick up maximum points in the coming weeks. Tuesday night is a perfect opportunity for Sunderland to get all three points. The team plays Birmingham in a cliched six-point match. Birmingham are also in the relegation zone, and Sunderland can doom their opponents to League One while moving out of the bottom three.

Perhaps the biggest problem in Sunderland's survival push is the team's remaining fixtures. The club plays against seven of its remaining 18 games against teams currently in the top 10. Survival won't be easy, but picking up points against the teams 11th place or lower will be the key to staying up.

Sunderland have got goals this term and the team averages 1.1 strikes per game. Lewis Grabban has tallied 12 goals in 19 games. His goals tally is good for third in the league. Unfortunately for Sunderland, Grabban has tallied 40% of Sunderland's goals. The figure is the highest amongst the top 10 goal scorers in the Championship. Aiden McGeady has tallied five strikes as well, but outside of the duo's 17 goals, only a smattering of players have found the back of the net.

Defence has been a problem for manager Chris Coleman. Sunderland have given up the second most goals in the Championship (47). The team gives up 1.7 goals per match. Defence has been Sunderland's Achilles heel, and it is the reason Grabban's goals haven't counted for more this term.

Sunderland's upcoming fixture list isn't easy. Seven matches will be played against promotion chasing teams. If Sunderland can get points against those teams around them, the club has a chance of surviving year one in the Championship. It all starts on Tuesday night against Birmingham at St. Andrew's.

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Regular Season
OVERALL TABLE PTS GP W D L GF GA +/-
1. Middlesbrough 7 3 2 1 0 6 2 4
2. Leeds United 6 2 2 0 0 7 2 5
3. Aston Villa 6 2 2 0 0 6 3 3
4. Swansea City 6 2 2 0 0 3 1 2
5. Nottingham F. 5 3 1 2 0 3 2 1
6. Brentford FC 4 2 1 1 0 6 2 4
7. Bolton Wanderers 4 2 1 1 0 4 3 1
8. West Bromwich 4 3 1 1 1 6 6 0
9. Wigan Athletic 3 2 1 0 1 5 5 0
10. Preston NE 3 2 1 0 1 1 1 0
11. Derby County 3 2 1 0 1 3 5 -2
12. Sheffield Utd 3 3 1 0 2 3 6 -3
13. Rotherham 3 2 1 0 1 2 5 -3
14. Bristol City 2 2 0 2 0 3 3 0
15. Blackburn Rovers 2 2 0 2 0 2 2 0
16. Millwall FC 2 2 0 2 0 2 2 0
17. Norwich City 1 2 0 1 1 5 6 -1
18. Sheffield Wed 1 2 0 1 1 3 4 -1
19. Birmingham City 1 2 0 1 1 2 3 -1
20. Ipswich Town 1 2 0 1 1 2 3 -1
21. Hull City 1 2 0 1 1 2 4 -2
22. Stoke City 1 2 0 1 1 2 4 -2
23. QPR 0 2 0 0 2 1 3 -2
24. Reading FC 0 2 0 0 2 1 3 -2

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