SAFC Analysis: Point edges Sunderland closer to survival - but it’s going to be testing, nervous final week with trips to Arsenal and Chelsea

Seb Larsson challenges Leicester's Leonardo Ulloa yesterday
Seb Larsson challenges Leicester's Leonardo Ulloa yesterday
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A FORTNIGHT ago, Dick Advocaat predicted that this relegation fight would go to a sweaty, angst-ridden finale.

Victory at Everton briefly created hopes that we would be spared such a fate; a chance to enjoy trips to Arsenal and Chelsea, rather than praying for an unlikely point.

But no. Well, it wouldn’t be the Sunderland way to do things in such straightforward fashion, would it?

In fairness, while there was bitter frustration at Sunderland’s inability to rubber-stamp their own fate in the most winnable of their final three games, the Black Cats remain in the strongest position of the trio of sides still having palpitations over joining QPR and Burnley in the Championship.

If Sunderland lose both of their final two games and avoid any big swings in the goal difference column, it is still going to need both Newcastle and Hull to come away with maximum points on the final day.

Given the respective troubles at both clubs, that isn’t going to be easy.

Nevertheless, the final week of the season won’t be an enjoyable one for Sunderland’s faithful, particularly if they fail to come away with anything for their efforts at the Emirates on Wednesday night.

A “park the bus” remit is never a fun experience to watch.

Sunderland will have to cope with the mental anxiety too against two of the top three after the nerves clearly played a part against the Foxes.

For the opening 25 minutes, it was Sunderland who came out the blocks like a steam train, rather than Leicester, who have made a habit of doing that over recent games and had come to the Stadium of Light with that game-plan.

Seb Larsson forced a smart save out of Kasper Schmeichel with a well-struck free-kick, Danny Graham should have perhaps done better from Lee Cattermole’s elegantly dinked ball over the top.

But as that intense start faded away and Leicester began to put the pressure on through a series of set pieces, Sunderland increasingly found it a struggle to create opportunities and their levels plummeted.

There were too many sloppy touches, too many daft fouls and too many nervous passes.

The absence of Jordi Gomez in the middle of the park was a blow that Sunderland struggled to overcome.

And while Adam Johnson added a splash of incision after coming off the bench, there was plenty of huff and puff from Sunderland, but little else.

Even the news of goals at White Hart Lane and Loftus Road which spurred the crowd on, failed to transmit into Advocaat’s side meaningfully worrying the Leicester back-line.

Fair play to the Foxes for completing their own stunning Great Escape and they were rightfully applauded off by the Sunderland fans after celebrating on the pitch.

But that moment of ecstasy at Premier League survival is one which Sunderland will have to wait for.