Don’t lose! That has to be the order to Sunderland ahead the Premier League’s basement battle.
An away victory would be absolutely exquisite and would get the Black Cats out of the bottom three.
A draw would too, for 24 hours at least, given West Ham don’t play until Sunday.
A trip to Swansea City is NOT a must win fixture, but it’s certainly one they must not lose. Here are three key areas for the Black Cats.
What will David Moyes plump for, an attacking approach or putting up the shutters? We’ve seen both over the last couple of weeks.
The simple answer is probably neither, though you would like to see the Black Cats get at ‘em.
Swansea are a team who look ripe for the taking, having conceded nine goals in the last two matches.
Sunderland played with great tempo and intensity last Saturday against Leicester.
Playing their best football of the season, they had the Foxes on the run and the champions were lucky not to take a bit of a hammering.
Victor Anichebe and Jermain Defoe were constant threats, as was the now-sadly-crocked Duncan Watmore. Steven Pienaar prompted the side superbly in the middle and Patrick van Aanholt got forward to great effect, as he tends to do.
The Black Cats will not want to be gung-ho and risk losing, but if they play with the same sort of ambition as they did last weekend, surely another three points is well within their remit.
Pick the right replacement for Dunc:
This failed footballer and excuse for a journalist would not dare to tell a man of Moyes’s standing who to select. To start with, he’s about two feet taller than me and with five million Premier League matches under his belt, he would appear to know what he’s doing.
Let’s face it, Moyes has got all his calls right of late – the introduction of Anichebe, the inclusion of Billy Jones and the recall of Papy Djilobodji. But tomorrow is a real poser for the boss?
My more gifted colleague, Richard Mennear, pondered the question this week in the Echo, throwing Fabio Borini, Adnan Januzaj, Wahbi Khazri, Seb Larsson and Javier Maquillo (alphabetical order) into the mix.
The first and last names are outsiders with the middle three the more likely lads.
But none of the boys are what you may call up to speed, like Dunc was. They’ve hardly been seen of late.
Januzaj has gas, Khazri a pass and Larsson the nous and, crucially, a good right foot at set-pieces.
Seb might not be up and down the park like Watmore, but he’s the proverbial steady hand. Given the form Dunc’s been in, it’s a vital choice.
Don’t take anything for granted:
Hardly the most plausible statement, but can you recall the last awayday Sunderland were half fancied to have a chance in?
The Black Cats were poor at Stoke City though that insipid display has been something of a turning point.
Just because Swansea are leaking goals left, right AND centre, that does not make this a gimme.
Swansea’s players will have had boss Bob Bradley’s boot up their backsides this week and in Gylfi Sigurdsson they have a dangerous figure.
The Icelander leads the goals/ assists table for the Welsh side and is more than useful on the penalty and free-kick front.
Sunderland can’t afford to give Swansea any encouragement. This, after all, is a match they cannot contemplate losing.