Last Saturday – Aston Villa 2, Sunderland 1
Would have been fantastic to earn a point here, and from what I read it sounded like they played well enough. Of course points are tough to come by against Aston Villa and the rest of the EPL’s top five teams. In the last two years, those 5 teams have taken points in each of the 16 matches against the Black Cats, with only 2 draws (Arsenal this season, Aston Villa last year).
|Record against top-5||Goals For||Goals Against|
This Saturday – Blackburn 0, Sunderland 0 (FA Cup)
Ugh, we get another match against Blackburn (5th of the year, so far both sides 1-1-2) next week (Wednesday). This scoreless draw wasn’t really what we were looking for, but considering neither Kenwyne Jones nor Djibril Cisse started, it’s not terribly surprising. With the rematch being the 4th of 5 games in two weeks, it’s possible they will rest again. Blackburn is in the same boat, schedule-wise, so it will be interesting to see who plays and who sits.
Winner of the rematch gets Coventry City in the next round. Coventry is currently in the middle of the pack in the Champions League, and are one of nine non-EPL teams remaining in the FA Cup.
Tuesday – Fulham 0, Sunderland 1
Kenwyne Jones was the story of the day. First off he signed a 4+ year deal to stay with Sunderland, quelling rumors of interest from other clubs. Then he knocked in a rebound to give Sunderland a big win. With that they are 5 points clear of relegation, with 8 clubs below them in the standings. That win makes this a positive week and a half, but there are still plenty of goals left to be accomplished.
With 15 matches to go, the Black Cats have 9 of the current top 10 clubs remaining on the schedule, if they want to get to 42 points (the relegation cutoff hasn’t been higher than 42 in the last seven years) they still need another 16 points. Other than the teams currently ahead of them in the league standings, they have 6 matches (i.e. – 18 possible points) against West Brom., Stoke, Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle, Portsmouth, and Bolton, all in the bottom half of the EPL standings. 16 of 18 points in those games is a tough task, so either points need to be stolen against the top teams, or they need wins in winnable matches, starting with the Wear-Tyne derby this weekend against Newcastle.
With two wins this week, the Cats will be on to the round of 16 in the FA Cup, will have swept rival Newcastle in derbies this season, and will be well clear of relegation. Not to get too far ahead of myself, but that would be pretty sweet.