With the Premier League returning this weekend we take a look at Sunderland's chances of avoiingd relegation.
The bookies have the 16-to-1 ON to hit the trap door.
20th - Sunderland Pld 28 Pts 20 GD -26
Odds – To be relegated: 1/16; To stay up: 8/1; To finish bottom: 1/2
Seven points from safety with 10 games to go shows why Sunderland are heavily odds-on for the drop into the Sky Bet Championship.
Yet a look back at last season shows they took 15 points from their final 10 games – a tally which could well be good enough to survive if it is repeated.
However, recent form suggests it’s unlikely to happen. Sunderland have won just once since the turn of the year and that 4-0 success at Crystal Palace looks stranger with every passing week – they’ve failed to score in the other six of their last seven matches.
Jermain Defoe, away this week with England, simply has to start scoring again soon. He’s scored 14 of the Black Cats’ 24 league goals this season – a remarkable 58 per cent.
The one thing you would say is in their favour is the fact they still have near all of their relegation rivals still to play.
Apr 1 – Watford A
Apr 4 – Leicester A
Apr 9 – Manchester United H
Apr 15 – West Ham H
Apr 26 - Middlesbrough A
Apr 29 – Bournemouth H
May 6 – Hull A
May 13 – Swansea H
May 21 – Chelsea A
TBC – Arsenal A
19th - Middlesbrough Pld 28 Pts 22 GD -13
Odds – To be relegated: 1/4; To stay up: 3/1; To finish bottom: 11/4
A look at Boro’s remaining games doesn’t give their goal-starved fans an awful lot of hope with four of the Big Six still to be played.
What seems abundantly clear from their fixture list is the need to sort their managerial situation out as soon as possible.
The games which immediately follow the international break look crucial in terms of where Boro will be playing their football come August. They face trips to drop rivals Swansea and Hull plus a home clash with Burnley, who are yet to win away this season, within a seven-day period.
Win all three and they are very much back in business. Fail to win any and the Sky Bet Championship will beckon.
One plus is they’ve rarely taken a hammering this season and subsequently have a good goal difference in the grand scheme of things.
Apr 2 – Swansea A
Apr 5 – Hull A
Apr 8 – Burnley H
Apr 17 – Arsenal H
Apr 22 – Bournemouth A
Apr 26 - Sunderland H
Apr 30 – Manchester City H
May 6 – Chelsea A
May 13 – Southampton H
May 21 – Liverpool A
18th - Hull Pld 29 Pts 24 GD -32
Odds – To be relegated: 4/9; To stay up: 7/4; To finish bottom: 11/2
Have picked up since the arrival of boss Marco Silva, taking 11 points from nine games, but the damage may have already been done.
Their record under Silva, if replicated across 38 games, would be more than enough to survive but the fact is they are still well short of the point-a-game ratio they may well require. They also have the worst goal difference in the league, a factor which could prove decisive come May 21.
The run-in does provide hope, though. Five of the nine remaining fixtures will be at home and two of those will be against the two teams currently below the Tigers.
Games against Watford and Palace also provide an opportunity to drag their drop rivals deeper into trouble, although a last-day meeting with Spurs looks far from ideal.
Apr 1 – West Ham H
Apr 5 – Middlesbrough H
Apr 8 – Manchester City A
Apr 15 – Stoke A
Apr 22 – Watford H
Apr 29 – Southampton A
May 6 – Sunderland H
May 13 – Crystal Palace A
May 21 – Tottenham H
17th - Swansea Pld 29 Pts 27 GD -27
Odds – To be relegated: 5/2; To stay up: 1/3; To finish bottom: 25/1
Like Hull, the Swans have picked up considerably since making a January managerial change and 15 points from his first 10 games is a great return from new boss Paul Clement.
It means they head into the two-week break three points outside the drop zone.
In terms of the run-in, their May matches look as if they may have been hand-picked.
Everton and West Brom could easily arrive at the Liberty Stadium with nothing to play for and there’s every chance Sunderland are already down by the time the Swans head north on the penultimate weekend of the season.
Apr 2 – Middlesbrough H
Apr 5 – Tottenham H
Apr 8 – West Ham A
Apr 15 – Watford A
Apr 22 – Stoke H
Apr 30 – Manchester United A
May 6 – Everton H
May 13 – Sunderland A
May 21 – West Brom H
16th - Crystal Palace Pld 28 Pts 28 GD -10
Odds – To be relegated: 3/1; To stay up: 1/4; To finish bottom: 50/1
A run of three straight wins (all to nil) suggests that escape-act specialist Sam Allardyce may have finally found the right formula at Selhurst Park.
The never-relegated Allardyce has lifted the club four points outside the relegation zone but that cushion may well be needed given what lies ahead.
Palace still have every member of the top six to play, plus the resurgent Leicester. However, that clash is sandwiched between the Foxes’ Champions League quarter-final which could be good news for the Londoners.
Home meetings with Burnley and Hull in the final straight look as if they could be vital if Palace are to keep their top-flight status.
Goal difference offers a little piece of good news – Palace have the best figure in the bottom half of the table.
Apr 1 – Chelsea A
Apr 5 – Southampton A
Apr 10 – Arsenal H
Apr 15 – Leicester H
Apr 23 – Liverpool A
Apr 26 - Tottenham H
Apr 29 – Burnley H
May 6 – Manchester City A
May 13 – Hull H
May 21 – Manchester United A
15th - Leicester Pld 28 Pts 30 GD -14
Odds – To be relegated: 20/1; To stay up: 1/100
They are not safe yet but after a recent resurgence which has brought three straight Premier League wins, it’s hard to see Leicester going from champions to Championship now.
If ever you wanted to see the bounce effect of a change of manager, this is a cracking example. A run of five straight league losses (all to nil) effectively cost Claudio Ranieri his job. Under Craig Shakespeare, Leicester have won all three league games, scoring three times on each occasion.
Of course, he has also guided them into the last eight of the Champions League which certainly has the potential to distract from domestic matters, but with Stoke, Sunderland, Watford and Bournemouth all still to play at the King Power Stadium, Leicester look like they should survive with something to spare.
Apr 1 – Stoke H
Apr 4 – Sunderland H
Apr 9 ��� Everton A
Apr 15 – Crystal Palace A
Apr 26 - Arsenal A
Apr 29 – West Brom A
May 6 – Watford H
May 13 – Manchester City A
May 21 – Bournemouth H
TBC – Tottenham H
14th - Watford Pld 28 Pts 31 GD -15
Odds – To be relegated: 10/1; To stay up: 1/40; To finish bottom: 200/1
There may be seven points between Watford and the relegation zone but are they really safe?
They’ve won just two of their last 13 matches and taken just one point from their last four; this is not the time to be on a bad run.
May’s fixtures offer little respite either – they are due to face three of the top seven plus a trip to resurgent Leicester, while Chelsea away could yet be added to that period when it is rearranged.
Watford look another club who will need to hit the ground running after the international break. They face Sunderland and West Brom at Vicarage Road within four days of each other.
Win both and top-flight status will be all-but secure; lose both and the alarm bells will begin to ring.
Apr 1 – Sunderland H
Apr 4 – West Brom H
Apr 8 – Tottenham A
Apr 15 – Swansea H
Apr 22 – Hull A
May 1 – Liverpool H
May 6 – Leicester A
May 13 – Everton A
May 21 – Manchester City H
TBC – Chelsea A
13th - Burnley Pld 29 Pts 32 GD -11
Odds – To be relegated: 18/1; To stay up: 1/100
With 32 points in the bag and sitting eight clear of danger, few will consider Burnley to be under threat of relegation.
But most of the sides below them have games in hand and Sean Dyche will certainly tell you there’s work still to do.
The good news for the Clarets is they have five home games to come – they’ve averaged more than two points a game at Turf Moor this season and possess the sixth best home record in the division.
Given they’ve yet to win away all season, they need that home form to hold up but the fixture list certainly suggests they can reach the fabled 40-point mark (such a tally hasn’t been required to stay up since 2002/03, by the way).
Their last three games look ideal, coming against sides likely to have little to play for in mid-table.
Apr 1 – Tottenham H
Apr 4 – Stoke H
Apr 8 – Middlesbrough A
Apr 15 – Everton A
Apr 23 – Manchester United H
Apr 29 – Crystal Palace A
May 6 – West Brom H
May 13 – Bournemouth A
May 21 – West Ham H