With two games against Crystal Palace and Southampton in quick succession, Sunderland have the opportunity to put pressure on those teams above us especially in tonight’s winnable home game against Palace.
The Sunderland players will have to wipe out the memories of last year’s fixtures against these two teams as the embarrassing defeat at St Mary’s had to be the lowest point of the last campaign, with the home defeat to Palace not too far away.
It is getting to the stage of the season were games are rapidly running out, so anything less than a win tonight must be viewed as points lost.
Palace are without a win in 10 Premier League games now and although they are enjoying a good FA Cup run, while doing so, they have slipped down the Premier League table.
Maybe they have taken their eye off the ball in the league as they have progressed in the cup but with a tie against Championship side Reading to come in the next round, they will fancy themselves a semi-final place.
If they have been distracted by the FA Cup run, then I hope it continues tonight.
But really Palace shouldn’t be taken lightly as they still have the pace in their team that caused so much damage to us at the Stadium of Light last season.
It is just our luck that the tormentor in chief that day, Yannick Bolasie, is back from a long injury lay-off, but with Lamine Kone adding pace to our backline, we surely won’t be as exposed again.
Connor Wickham, if picked, will have a point to prove.
His season has been wrecked by injury and suspension, but he scored twice in his last outing, the second a brilliant volley with his left foot which shows he has the technique to go with his physical strength and if he is at his best can be a formidable threat.
If Sunderland can get the job done and beat Palace tonight it would take the pressure off for the Southampton game, were a draw would then be seen as a good result and Sam Allardyce has already said he wants four points from the next two crucial fixtures.