Kevin Bell: Sunderland have no room for error as Premier League reaches a climax

Sunderland have no room for error in final games of the season
Sunderland have no room for error in final games of the season
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Were I not feeling so sorry for myself after Southampton’s late equaliser on Saturday, I would have empathised with Sam Allardyce's obvious frustration at his players' inability to make an extra man count and gain a precious victory.

Looking at the two games against Southampton this season in isolation, the casual observer may find it difficult to imagine that one of the two sides are 16 points ahead of the other.

Nobody who has watched Sunderland with any regularity will find the points gap the least bit surprising.

The game at the Stadium of Light in early November was lost by Sunderland by a single goal. Southampton were marginally the better team but it took a silly challenge by Yann M'Vila to present the decisive penalty to the opposition.

Sunderland were good value for a victory in the game at St Mary's yet somehow ended up with a draw.

Two even games from which Southampton took four points.

SAFC were the better team in both games against West Ham this season and got one point.

Sunderland nearly beat West Ham at Upton Park and nearly won at home to Crystal Palace.

The frequency with which individuals make the wrong choice or fail to execute the right one when chosen has been a feature of this season.

It is such margins which explain the points difference between Sunderland and Southampton.

If the players do not apply themselves more meticulously then they are going to only nearly avoid relegation.

Patrick Van Aanholt failed to tap a ball out for a throw at West Ham leading to a goal being conceded and has repeated the error in two games since, thankfully leading to no further goals.

Jack Rodwell and Jermain Defoe both have missed chances to score. Dame N'Doye lost Connor Wickham in the six yard box for Palace’s second goal last Tuesday and any number of players switched off for Virgil van Dijk’s late goal on Saturday.

The otherwise impressive Wahbi Khazri has made decisions in the West Ham and Southampton games which confused me so much I involuntarily pulled a face like Iain Dowie.

The players named have all also made important and positive contributions this season, particularly since Allardyce came to the club and, allied with the injection of quality provided by new players, improved significantly.

The margin for error, however, is now practically non-existent.

Leicester's incredible season has been the based on minimising errors and playing with intensity in defence and attack.

Concentration and thoroughness can take a team a long way in the Premier League.

The points required to survive are there for Sunderland but the players must revel in the aforementioned attributes for safety to be achieved.

Nearly getting the job done will not suffice.

New seats needed at the Stadium of Light?

Sunderland’s U21's game against Everton at the Stadium of Light was shown live on BT Sport on Monday and very enjoyable it was, too.

It was however slightly disturbing to note the continued dramatic fading in the colouring of the seating.

Perhaps it was the floodlights or the camera angle but the legend carried by the North Stand now seems to read ‘HA’WAY THE LAOS’.

Either the club has really decided to push the SAFC brand in South East Asia or a few new seats need to be ordered. Altogether now - 'From the banks of the Mekong River...'