Following on from six defeats in our last seven fixtures, this would normally be the perfect time for any team to face a side in the bottom three. But when that side has just picked a point and a clean sheet against Tottenham Hotspur, before going on to fire four past Crystal Palace, completing that challenge is far easier said than done.
So, we spoke to www.wearewearside.com to find out what we can expect to see from Sunderland this coming Saturday.
Firstly, what are your thoughts on Sunderland’s season so far?
It has been a bit of a disaster in all honesty, in keeping with the start of our last four seasons. We lost our manager in pre-season because Roy Hodgson couldn’t beat Iceland, our Chief Executive told his we are skint and to top it all off we ended up signing Joleon Lescott! However, there have been periods where Sunderland have looked a decent team, most notably last week as we tore Crystal Palace apart.
How do you believe David Moyes wants his Sunderland side to play?
Moyes has spent most of the season trying to figure that out I think. We have finally settled on a system which is working decently. Right now Sunderland usually line up with three centre backs and wing backs, so the usual approach is to soak up pressure and try to create space for Jermain Defoe on the counter. We don’t have that much pace, so you normally see quite a few players trying to get forward.
How does this seasons squad and performances compare to previous years?
Not much has changed in that respect. Sunderland start the season poorly, sack the manager (looks like we will be spared that ritual this season) and win our last five games to stay up! We are closer to safety than we usually are at this time of year, so I’d say it’s going better in that respect.
After a draw at Spurs and a thrashing of Crystal Palace, are Southampton facing a Sunderland side in their best form of the season so far?
It’s hard to say really. Whilst both of those results were excellent, we are missing a lot of players through injury right now. Earlier in the season we won three games in four matches against Bournemouth, Hull and Leicester.
As an outsider looking in, what is your perception of Southampton this season?
I’ve been very surprised by the lack of form, Southampton always strike me as the very consistent top-ten sort of team. Like one of the Evertons of the Premier League, always doing well but struggling to reach that next level. You won’t get relegated, so the question I’d ask myself as a Saints fan is would I swap a top half finish for a cup final? Of course I would. Enjoy Wembley, there is nothing like it.
If you could take any Southampton player, who would it be and why?
That’s easy, Virgil van Djik. I’m convinced he is the best defender in the league, or at least one of them, and it still irks me to this day that Sunderland thought £10m was too much for the Dutchman when we courted him the year before he went to St Mary’s. Then we go and spend £8m on Papy Djilobodji instead, deary me.
Minus Jermain Defoe, who has been your player of the season?
With the exception of Defoe most of our players have had very inconsistent seasons. The only two exceptions to that are Jordan Pickford and Victor Anichebe. Because he is a local lad I’ll plump for Pickford and trust me this boy is going to be a top keeper very soon.
Do you believe that you have what it takes to beat the drop once again?
We’ve performed greater escapes than this so absolutely. If the last four seasons have taught me anything it’s never to write Sunderland off regardless of how crap we are.
And finally, what do you think the score will be this Saturday?
This is the kind of opportunity we usually spurn. Get into good form, play a team out of form and lose. However, I can’t shake the optimism that first half against Palace has filled me with so I think it’ll be a draw which won’t be much good for either of us.