Will Sunderland stay up? Our team of SAFC writers predict survival chances, results and points haul

Sunderland rarely do things the easy way and with 12 nerve-shredding games left, their Championship status hangs by a thread.

Thursday, 1st March 2018, 11:49 am
Updated Thursday, 1st March 2018, 11:50 am
Sunderland boss Chris Coleman.

Ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Millwall, Sunderland are five points from safety and with just five wins in 34 games, the odds of staying up are stacked against them.

Prior to relegation from the Premier League, Sunderland were no strangers to pulling off a great escape.

It can be done.

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Here, our Sunderland AFC writers examine their chances and predict the results of the remaining dozen games.

Richard Mennear: Relegation is no longer a possibility but a probability.

Sunderland’s survival chances are a mirror image of the weather. Bleak.

Chris Coleman is rightly putting a brave public face on proceedings and is bullish about beating the drop but the size of the task facing him is daunting.

Coleman took Wales to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 but keeping Sunderland up this season - given the financial troubles and turmoil off the pitch with Ellis Short looking to sell - would be his greatest achievement.

With so few wins, just five, it is hard to be overly optimistic but there have been promising signs on the attacking front in recent games, Sunderland scoring three times against Bristol City and Middlesbrough.

Failure to adequately replace Lewis Grabban could be the club’s downfall but at least they have showed they are capable of sharing the goals out.

Keeping them out at the other end is another matter. Sunderland’s defensive record is abysmal (61 conceded), averaging almost two goals a game.

There is a run of unbeaten games in this side and I feel that may come in two spells against Aston Villa, QPR and Preston North End and then in the games against Norwich City, Reading and Burton Albion.

There will inevitably be more defeats along the way but I predict Sunderland will end up with 42 points.

Will that be enough? History tells you there’s every chance it won’t be.

Blackburn Rovers went down last season with 51 points, which was on the high side, but in 2015-16, third-bottom Charlton Athletic were relegated with 40 points, a whopping nine points from safety.

In 2014-15 Millwall went down with 41 points, five points adrift. In 2013-14 Doncaster Rovers went down with 44 points, one more point would have kept them up.

It is going to be a nervy final two months, ‘heart-attack city’ as Coleman put it.

The gap has widened in recent weeks and relegation is now a probability rather than a possibility.

There is still time, though. Just about.

PREDICTIONS

Millwall (L)

Aston Villa (W)

QPR (D)

Preston North End (W)

Derby County (L)

Sheffield Wednesday (L)

Leeds United (L)

Norwich City (D)

Reading (W)

Burton Albion (W)

Fulham (L)

Wolves (D)

Total points: 42

Phil Smith: Predicted points haul unlikely to see them survive.

Sunderland have at least shown in the last two games a genuine attacking threat and that gives some hope that they will be able to string some wins together between now and the end of the season.

Last season the goals dried up a touch for Jermain Defoe and Sunderland faded out painfully.

With some key players fit again, Chris Coleman has more variety in his squad and the ability to make game-changing substitutions. The fear of too little, too late is still strong, however.

The Black Cats have to play a number of teams near the top of the league and defensively they are struggling.

The return of Lamine Kone adds welcome strength and experience to the backline but Coleman still does not have a goalkeeper who he can rely on and getting the right balance alongside Kone will be difficult.

The full-backs have been massively inconsistent, while the young centre-backs have been erratic.

John O’Shea’s leadership is crucial but the pace and movement of Middlesbrough’s attacked caused havoc at the weekend.

Getting the balance right is not an easy task for Coleman.

My predictions see them reaching the end of the season on 43 points, which in truth is unlikely to see them survive.

The magic number is likely to be well below the 51 Blackburn Rovers were relegated on last season but Sunderland still need a big improvement.

Coleman wants his side to stay in touch with the sides above and so far they have just about done that.

It is far from over, but the odds do seem to be against the Black Cats.

PREDICTIONS

Millwall (L)

Aston Villa (D)

QPR (W)

Preston North End (D)

Derby County (L)

Sheffield Wednesday (W)

Leeds United (L)

Norwich City (D)

Reading (W)

Burton Albion (W)

Fulham (L)

Wolves (D)

Total points: 43