For much of the campaign Sunderland have looked like a boat with a hole in hull in recent months, leaking goals instead of water, but all the same sinking.
However, the Black Cats claimed a 1-0 win at the Premier League’s very own Jekyll and Hyde Crystal Palace last night, with striker Jermain Defoe scoring the only goal of the game to secure maximum points and lift the gloom on Wearside.
No more keystone cops
The victory at Palace was only the second time that Sam Allardyce’s team has kept a clean sheet this season in the league.
As Big Sam stated in his post-match interview, two clean sheets have brought the Black Cats six points, with the other coming in their 3-0 derby win over Newcastle.
Allardyce stated the importance of keeping clean sheets after the match telling Sky Sports: “It is a massive result for us and it is no coincidence that zero [goals] against got us a victory,”
“Our two clean sheets this season have got us six points. It is the way to go and always has been. Today we frustrated the crowd, we frustrated Crystal Palace, and then we got a fantastic three points, our first away win of the season.”
The Sunderland defence have done their best keystone cops impression all season long and for much of last season as well. The Black Cats brought in new defenders in the summer, but little changed in their defensive displays.
Sam Allardyce is often criticised for his style of play. However the veteran boss does have a history of producing hard-working and well organised teams, so it was just a matter of time before he managed it in the north east.
In Costel Pantilimon they have a reasonably decent ‘keeper, so if the Black Cats defence can produce more solid displays they will produce far clean sheets, which equate to more points it’s not rocket science.
A dangerous front-line
The Sunderland forward line is not the worst in the Premier League. In former-England international striker Jermain Defoe the Black Cats have an instinctive finisher, who given chances will score goals as he has proven throughout his long career.
Defoe has found the net in two of his last three appearances for the Black Cats and has scored four top-flight goals this season, despite not always being in favour since the arrival of Allardyce in the north east.
Even at 33-years-old Defoe is still a very capable Premier League goal scorer and I am sure most of the teams at the bottom of the league would like the former-Spurs star in their team.
Scotland international striker Steven Fletcher partnered Defoe at Palace and also at Everton. The former-Burnley star has a decent record in the Premier League, when fit of course, which has proven a big problem for the Scot.
Fletcher also has four top-flight goals this season and is a threat to opposition defences when on form. The 28-year-old has struggled to remain injury-free during his career, but his partnership with Defoe could be the key to dragging the Black Cats out of the relegation zone and up the table.
No great escape this season
Sunderland has done their best impression of Steve McQueen in recent years, with numerous great escapes in recent campaigns. The Black Cats have a flare for the dramatic, only rescuing their top-flight status at the last minute in the past few seasons.
The Black Cats are currently 18th place in the Premier League, but are just a point behind north east rivals Newcastle who are directly above Allardyce’s side.
Sunderland’s situation now does not look as bleak as a few weeks ago. The Black Cats are now within touching distance of climbing out of the bottom three.
Sam Allardyce has only ever suffered relegation once in his managerial career and has never suffered relegation from the top-flight.
I get the feeling that the wily old boss will be able to steer the Black Cats away from the relegation early than usual, which I am sure would save a lot of heart palpitations amongst the Stadium of Light faithful.
Will Sunderland now climb the Premier League table?
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