Sunderland could have done without this (and I'm not on about Darron Gibson)

Birmingham's untimely back-to-back wins have made Sunderland's victory all the more important. Had we lost, we'd be eight points adrift and effectively relegated.

by GMac88 Saturday, 31 March 2018 07:33 PM Comments
Birmingham's untimely back-to-back wins have made Sunderland's victory all the more important. Had we lost, we'd be eight points adrift and effectively relegated.

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However this means we still have a five point gap to overhaul.  If we are to stay up, we have to assume that being above Burton and Barnsley is essential for that. Who else could we leap frog and avoid League One football?

Birmingham
Birmingham visit the unpredictable Bolton and host hapless Burton Albion in their next two games which could mean even three wins on the bounce may not be enough to see our heads above water. Their decision to replace Steve Cotterill with Garry Monk earlier this month has paid immediate dividends with the Blues scoring six in their last three games. This is from a side who scored less goals than ANY football league side until Monk's arrival. Getting some form out of Jota has been the catalyst behind their run of good results and they really do look like a team on the up. We're going to have to win a lot of games to finish above these.

Bolton
No team in towards the bottom has a bigger direct impact on who is relegated from this division than Bolton. With eight games left, they play Birmingham (home), Barnsley (away) and Burton (away) before the end of the campaign. They have an eight point advantage over us as I write this - meaning they could rely on a couple of wins from those crunch encounters to stay up. That said, they haven't scored more than one goal in a league game since December and are reliant completely on clean sheets right now for three points. Perhaps a bad result against Birmingham could really put Phil Parkinson's side under pressure and at risk of returning to League One.

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Reading
Of all the teams towards the bottom Reading matched any in terms of free fall up until Jaap Stam's dismissal. They had managed just one league win since 2nd December - over Sunderland of course. However, rather irritatingly Reading acted and picked up a cracking manager in Paul Clement. It looks to be a sound appointment with the man once linked heavily to Wearside immediately picking up three points against QPR who already look to be on their holidays with little to play for. Their next three games, ending at home to us, will dictate whether or not they are in the relegation fight come May. I expect probably not.

Hull
We beat these man when we were at our worst. They looked so bad at the SoL in January it's quite annoying they've found five wins since then, including two on the bounce which preceded the pummelling they took at the hands of Birmingham. Another point tonight, however, puts them nine points ahead of us, effectively ten with a far superior goal difference, and surely out of reach.

We need one of the four teams above to have a spectacularly poor end to the season and ourselves to pick up another four wins - or more. Survival still feels unlikely, but a win on Monday in front of a big crowd could start convincing everyone there is life on Wearside yet. Chris Coleman's plea on safc.com for attendance and Sunderland's performance last night will hopefully create an incredible atmosphere - but the players need to come out fighting from minute one against Sheffield Wednesday.

Strap in, nothing has been decided yet, but perhaps this will have to be the greatest escape of our great escapes if we are to pull it off.
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