Wise Men Say: It’s looking like two from three in the relegation scrap

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It’s starting to look like two from three, isn’t it?

If they didn’t look doomed already, Aston Villa certainly look gone now, after a window where they barely lifted a finger and another defeat in midweek.

Annoyingly, Swansea and Bournemouth have managed put together some decent results and have now put some breathing space between themselves and the thick red line.

That leaves us, Newcastle and Norwich.

All three sides lost in midweek and we’re now at the stage in the season where every point is precious.

Alex Neil’s men are in the team in the most “comfortable” position though, as they currently sit in 17th place. They also have arguably the most straightforward game this weekend as they travel to the aforementioned, doomed Aston Villa.

I’d take Villa beating Norwich here, if I’m honest. Keeping the Canaries in the mix can only be a good thing for us and, even if Villa took all three points here, we’d still be a minimum of three points ahead of the second city side.

It’s the type of game you’d expect Norwich to grind out a result in, though. I can already see Stephen Naismith bundling in a scrappy winner with less than 20 minutes to go.

Then there’s Newcastle hosting a West Brom side who’ve managed to just about edge clear of danger now.

Sitting on a respectable 29 points, a win at St James’s Park would see Tony Pulis’s side take an almighty stride towards survival, so it won’t be a straightforward afternoon for Steve McClaren.

The Baggies will certainly fancy their chances considering Newcastle have been depleted of defenders due to injury and suspension. Their lack of defensive options won’t just be music to the ears of Pulis, but to the rest of the managers down at the bottom as it’ll surely impact them over the next few weeks.

Saving the best until last, The Lads travel to Liverpool, encouraged by some positive performances against Manchester City in midweek. We need to turn those displays into results though.

Sam Allardyce admitted that we’ll need to pull off a few shock results and, on paper, you’d consider a Sunderland win at Anfield something of a surprise.

But Liverpool have been ridiculously inconsistent, despite the added confidence they’ve gained since Jurgen Klopp’s arrival.

One of Liverpool’s main weaknesses has been their inability to defend corners and you probably wouldn’t want to be facing a Sam Allardyce side if you’re currently being dodgy on set pieces. If you then take into consideration how dangerous Sunderland new boy Wahbi Khazri’s corners looked against City, then you’ve probably found the crux of Big Sam’s game plan.

Hopefully we’ll also see Jan Kirchhoff continue his role in central midfield after being Sunderland’s best player last time out.

He bounced back excellently after a shaky debut, looking calm and composed throughout against City.

We’ll probably see a more pressing game from Liverpool, as Klopp sides like to do, so it’ll be interesting to see how Kirchhoff fares, but if you can look so cool up against Yaya Toure then I wouldn’t be too concerned.

Hopefully the higher pressing from Liverpool will open up some gaps for the likes of Khazri and Jermain Defoe to exploit, as well.

By 5pm tomorrow we may very well have a good idea who the unlucky one of the three is.

I’m not nervous though, I’m used to this by now!

*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