Wise Men Say: Time to capitalise on run of crucial December games
Are we allowed to refer to the upcoming games as being the 'Christmas period'?
It’s now acceptable for radio stations to play Christmas songs, so I guess it is.
This particular period has thrown up some memorable results for Sunderland, historically.
The other week on the podcast, we looked back at prior point totals the Black Cats have racked up by the end of December.
We concluded that around 14 points is necessary just to be in touch of the other sides in the relegation picture.
Now every year is different, of course, and you can’t state there’s a set pattern you must follow.
In Gus Poyet’s last season in charge, we were on 20 points and had only been in the bottom three for one week in total. We stayed up by the skin of our teeth.
Last season, we lost every single game we played in December and had 12 points.
We approached the Villa game on January 2 looking as doomed as them. We stayed up by the skin of our teeth.
But what is clear, and I think what I’m driving at, is that Sunderland must pick up at least six points during this time to make me us slightly confident we can get out of it.
Aren’t you sick of just “getting out of it” every season?
It’s worth remembering that, even though last season’s total was quite low, we had an outstanding January transfer window.
Who honestly believes there’ll be anything close to that again?
Not me, anyway. I know, Merry Christmas n’ all that.
Looking at some of these games coming up, you’d hope to get a win in; it feels more than doable.
There’s Chelsea at home and Manchester United away buried among home games against Leicester and Watford, and trips to Swansea and Burnley.
There’s certainly going to be some point surges made by some of the sides near the bottom during this time.
It goes without saying, it would be preferable to have the Burnley and Swansea games at home, but there are still five games there that would hardly sent the footballing world into a state of shock should Sunderland come out victorious.
We lost all five December matches last season (there are two more games to play this year, but still).
It also feels a bit odd that a game at home to the Premier League champions is almost welcomed, but such is their rotten league form that you can’t help feel their natural plateau has been reached after the massive, freakish high of last season.
I’d expect us, like every other side which has begun to work the Foxes out, to sit quite deep and encourage them to have a lot of the ball early on tomorrow.
The victories against Bournemouth and Hull saw the lads do exactly that, before pouncing as our opponents almost settled into a false sense of security.
The key, obviously, is to not let them score during this time. I don’t fancy our chances if Leicester have a lead to protect.
It feels like make or break season, folks. Strap yourself in.
* The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction. You can stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes