Sunderland's clash at Norwich will decide the club's whole future

Games don't come much bigger or more important than Sunderland's clash with Norwich City at Carrow Road, with both teams fighting for their Premier League lives.

Tuesday, 12th April 2016, 11:00 am
Newcastle United's Aleksandar Mitrovic (centre) sits dejected on the pitch after the final whistle of their defeat at Norwich

The pressure is going to be huge and whichever side handles the inevitable nerves and tension best will give themselves a great chance.

Time is slipping away now and even if Sunderland win, we’ll still be below Norwich, making it a must-win game as the Canaries will be much happier if it ends all-square.

Norwich’s last home game against Newcastle was another relegation six-pointer, just like Saturday’s, and having come out on top, it will have given them the confidence that they can repeat it against Sunderland.

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From the highlights I saw of that game, Norwich looked good value for their win, although it was noticeable that they struggled when the physical Aleksandar Mitrovic came on, who caused more than a bit of panic.

The trouble is we don’t have that sort of player in our squad, so Sam Allardyce will have to come up with another way of causing them problems as although we’ve improved lately at the back, it’s come at the expense of goals at the other end with only two in our last four games.

Carrow Road will be packed on Saturday, noisy and hostile, so every Sunderland player needs to be ready to fight and battle for 90 minutes of football which could determine the whole of the club’s future.

The stakes are that high. Although there’s been some massive games lately – including a derby – Saturday is probably the biggest of the lot.

I expect Norwich to throw everything at Sunderland early-on, but if they can survive that onslaught, then they can turn the tables, as the longer the Canaries go without scoring, the more edgy and anxious they will become.

Sunderland’s record against clubs that have just come up is always poor and true to form, we haven’t won against any of this season’s promoted teams in four attempts.

But if ever there was a time to break that jinx, it has to be on Saturday, when anything less than three points will leave us with a mountain to climb.