David Jones column: Sky colleague Jamie Redknapp reckons Defoe will keep Sunderland up

Great feeling: Jermain Defoe enjoys scoring his first goal for Sunderland today
Great feeling: Jermain Defoe enjoys scoring his first goal for Sunderland today
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Sometimes in a season the points are all that matter – and that was certainly the case against Burnley on Saturday, a team Sunderland simply had to put away.

In truth, there was very little quality from either side in the game barring two very good goals which settled the nerves of the crowd and the players.

The first goal must have thrilled Gus Poyet having started right at the back, culminating with an overlapping full-back and an excellent header from Connor Wickham.

And everyone at the club will have been thrilled to see Jermain Defoe in the right place to convert a beautifully-worked second goal.

I was watching the game on a monitor at Sky studios while preparing for our coverage of Chelsea v Manchester City.

When Defoe scored Jamie Redknapp turned away from the QPR game to say begrudgingly: “He will keep you up.”

It’s hard to disagree.

While I baulked at the reported wages and length of deal offered to a striker whose best days are clearly behind him, there’s no doubting that every team in the relegation dogfight would want Defoe on their side.

And keep an eye on the impact he has on those around him.

Wickham for one should only benefit from watching Defoe at close quarters; how he sniffs out goals, is so adept at receiving the ball and the way he can conjure up an extra inch of space to get his shot off in a crowded area.

But make no mistake it is a dogfight from here on in: transfer window closed, 15 games to go and a straight race to the line.

By my reckoning there are eight teams in it from Crystal Palace down: eight teams currently separated by just six points.

They’ll all have a survival target in mind which I’m sure falls short of the mythical 40-point mark.

Only once in the seven seasons since Sunderland returned to the Premier League would they have needed 40 to guarantee survival: in the other six seasons 37 points would have been enough.

Managers in this situation tend to use a point per game as their barometer which leaves Sunderland just above par.

Five more wins should be enough and with six of the last seven home games against teams in the bottom half Gus Poyet will think they have every chance.

I realise that might sound silly given Saturday’s win was only the second at home this season, but that’s the reality.

Gus will know, with seven of the last eight away games against teams in the top half, his team can’t rely on shock results to keep them afloat like last term.

So games looming large at the Stadium of Light against West Brom, QPR and Aston Villa really do look make or break.

One cup final down ... eight more to come.

* You’ll be aware that Sky have recently signed Thierry Henry to join our team of pundits.

He’s settled in very nicely and after the Chelsea game on Saturday night we got to chatting about my allegiance for Sunderland when his eyes lit up. Thierry started eulogising about two Arsenal games at the Stadium of Light which burned bright in his memory. The first was a 4-0 win on the last day of the season in 2003 when the Frenchman ran us ragged scoring one and setting up three for Freddie Ljungberg.

“They gave me a standing ovation,” he remembered, “I couldn’t believe it.”

The next occasion was in his second coming as an Arsenal player when he told me he’d left the bench to warm up and became aware the home fans were applauding somebody.

“I thought they were cheering for a Sunderland player,” he said. “But then I realised it was me they were on their feet for. Again I was amazed, fantastic fans.”

So there you go, Thierry’s practically a Mackem!