Capital One Cup final shows why Sunderland will survive the drop
Up until Christmas this season, Sunderland claimed just 10 points in their first 17 Premier League games. In the nine matches since, the club have managed an incredible turnaround tally of 14 from an available 27.
Gus Poyet’s side, however, remain third-favourites for relegation, with odds of 13/8. But their encouraging display in the Capital One Cup final loss to Manchester City, on top of their form in the second half of the current league campaign should help them survive.
Sunderland lie in 18th place in the Premier League, but are just one point off West Brom – with a game in hand on them. They will look at their March league fixture list with encouragement, as, besides Liverpool, they face winnable games against Crystal Palace, Norwich and West Ham.
Their next match comes on March 9th, after the international break, in the FA Cup quarter-final trip to Hull City.
After their spirited run to the Capital One Cup final, where they beat Manchester United in the semi-final tie, the Black Cats should perhaps sacrifice the FA Cup to concentrate on staying up. They face a Hull side who are up in 12th in the league and six points off the drop-zone, so the Tigers can afford to field a strong XI.
Despite Sunderland’s 3-1 loss in the cup final against Man City, they can take pride from their display. They opened the scoring after 10 minutes thanks to a great angled finish by Liverpool loanee Fabio Borini, and managed to hold off the quadruple cup chasers (175/1) until half time.
Only a stunning goal from Yaya Toure in the 55th minute spurred City on, and after Samir Nasri’s tidy finish a minute later, there was only one team who were going to win. Sunderland never stopped fighting, however, and their total shots of six during the match was not too far off the Sky Blues’ 11. A late goal from Jesus Navas, though, killed off the Black Cats.
The Mackems also possess a man in top form in Adam Johnson. The England World Cup hopeful (5/1 to make the 23-man squad to Brazil) has nine goals in all competitions this season, with six in his last eight in the league.
Borini is another player who can help the club survive, and will hope to translate his form of three Capital One Cup goals in five games into the league now. Back them at 4/9 to stay up.